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Ecology, feminism, and planning : lessons from women’s enviromental activism in Clayoquot Sound Boucher, Priscilla Mae 1998

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E C O L O G Y , FEMINISM, AND PLANNING: LESSONS F R O M W O M E N ' S E N V I R O N M E N T A L ACTIVISM IN C L A Y O Q U O T SOUND by PRISCILLA M A E B O U C H E R B.Comm., Dalhousie University, 1974 M.E.S. , York University, 1990 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F PHILOSOPHY in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES School of Community and Regional Planning We accept this thesis jisconforming to jttye,required stanM^rd T H E UNIVERSITY O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A August 1997 © Priscilla Mae Boucher, 1997 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date Ut)S_ IT 111, DE-6 (2788) ABSTRACT In the context of a deepening environmental crisis, there are growing calls for a planning framework informed by environmental ethics. In response, I locate this research in the ecocentric discourse and argue the need to challenge both ecological destruction and patriarchy. I raise feminist concerns about the marginalization of women from the processes by which we come to understand and respond to environmental concerns, and adopt a feminist methodology, qualitative methods, and a case study strategy to explore the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism in the context of growing concerns about the forests of Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia. The purpose of this research is to identify: (a) the critical insights that these women bring to their activism; (b) the patriarchal barriers they face in the course of their activism; and (c) the implications of the research findings for an action-oriented ecofeminism and ethics-based planning for sustainability. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 women and their feedback (transcripts, workshop, draft research findings) incorporated into the final report. The research findings confirm that these women have critical insights to offer and that patriarchal barriers frustrate but do not totally constrain their activism. These women offer insight into the complex set of values and structures that protect the status quo, and the forest industry in particular, expose patriarchal structures and values that constrain their activism and protect the interests of a male-dominated industry, and suggest a normative foundation for sustainability that takes seriously the well-being of human and nonhuman nature, male and female. ii In analysing these findings, I argue for an action-based ecofeminism that moves beyond ideal notions of the ecological self, promotes a public ethic of care, challenges both constructs and structures, and critically supports the emergence of women's insights and contributions from the economic, political, and cultural margins. Furthermore, I argue that these women's insights and experiences have significant substantive and procedural implications for planning. I propose an ethics-based planning framework committed to the ecological and social integrity of 'place' and to the well-being of all who live there—human and nonhuman, male and female. In challenging the status quo, this ethics-based planning involves struggles with both external structures and internally held values. In doing so, it links the political to the personal and contributes to both structural and personal transformation. i n TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i List o f Tables v i List of Figures v i i Acknowledgements v i i i Chapter Part I. Introducing the Research 1. Ecology, Feminism and Planning 2 1.1 Planning in the Context of the Environmental Crisis 2 1.2 Learning From Environmental Ethics 5 1.3 Introducing This Research 8 2. Sustainability as Contested Terrain: Locating This Research in the Ecocentric Discourse 14 2.1 The Contested Terrain of Sustainability Discourses 14 2.2 A n Overview of the Ecocentric Discourse 24 2.3 Implications for an Ethics-Based Planning 58 3. Raising Feminist Concerns: The Cal l for A Feminist Re-Framing of the Environmental Crisis 60 3.1 Raising Feminist Concerns 60 3.2 Ecofeminism and the 'Crisis of Culture' 67 3.3 The Cal l for an Action-Oriented Ecofeminism 94 3.4 Learning From Women's Environmental Act ivism 104 3.5 Defining This Research 122 4. Recovering Women's Voices: Methods 125 4.1 Choosing a Method: Carrying Out the Research 125 4.2 Ensuring Trustworthiness1 of the Research 138 4.3 Analysing and Presenting the Research Findings 154 i v Part II. The Case Study: Exploring the Subjective Dimension of Women's Environmental Act ivism in Clayoquot Sound 5. A n Introduction to Clayoquot Sound 160 5.1 Setting the Global Context 161 5.2 Setting the Provincial Context 165 5.3 A n Introduction to Clayoquot Sound 173 5.4 Growing Concerns and Controversy 183 5.5 A n Introduction to the Women Interviewed 188 6. From Fragmentation to Connection 192 7. From Unsustainable Livelihoods and Lifestyles to L iv ing Gently on the Planet 225 8. From Failed Processes to Community-Based Decision-Making 260 9. From Destructive Values and Ways of Being to Life-Affirming Values and 'Gentle' Ways of Being 303 Part III. Reflections on the Research Findings 10. The Significance and Implications of the Research Findings 338 10.1 Critical Insights and Patriarchal Barriers 339 10.2 Toward an Action-Oriented Ecofeminism 353 10.3 Toward an Ethics-Based Planning for Sustainability 361 References 373 Appendix A 406 A - l Interview Guide 407 A - 2 Participant Review Form 408 v LIST O F T A B L E S Table 1 A Brief Profile of the Women Interviewed 190 Table 2 A Cultural Critique of What Is and What Ought To Be 344 v i LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 A Map of Clayoquot Sound 174 Figure 2 Ethics-Based Planning for Sustainability: The External and Internal Dimensions of A Power-Sensitive Process 365 v i i A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S In everything we do, we depend on those around us for support, understanding, and guidance. To that end, I would like to acknowledge all those who have supported me through this process. Firstly, I thank all of the women who so generously gave of their time to share with me their insights and experiences, their joys and frustrations. Without you, this research could not have been done. Secondly, I thank my daughter.Karla for her love and patience through the many years of graduate school, and through this research process in particular. I know that, even as you tried to understand and support my work, it was not always easy to share me with a computer, books, and external deadlines. Thirdly, I want to acknowledge the circle of women~Pam Rogers, Linda Irwin, Cindy Sutherland, Janet Thorne, Susanna Puppato, Joan McMahon , Heather Pritchard, Loralee Delbrouck—who have been an important source of support, inspiration, and strength over these years. Fourthly, I thank my committee, Wi l l i am Rees, Peter Boothroyd, Penny Gurstein, and Pam Courtenay Ha l l for providing the 'space' and support for this research in the halls of academe. I am also grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for financially supporting my research. Finally, I wish to thank the forests for being there. Without you, this planet and our lives would be devastating. v i i i P A R T I INTRODUCING T H E R E S E A R C H 1 C H A P T E R 1 E C O L O G Y , FEMINISM, AND PLANNING 1.1 Planning in the Context of the Environmental Crisis In his overview of four major planning traditions—social reform, policy analysis, social learning, and social mobilization'—John Friedmann (1987, 73-4) argues that all four "revolve around one core concern: how knowledge should properly be linked to action." Given this central concern, it is not unreasonable to expect that planning has an important role to play in the resolution of environmental problems. In the midst of a deepening environmental crisis and urgent calls for action, the challenge for planning, according to Friedmann's definition, would be to properly link knowledge to actions that contribute to long-term sustainability. But while Friedmann does not specifically examine planning 1 Social reform seeks to apply "scientific knowledge to public affairs" in order to improve the effectiveness of state interventions (Friedmann 1987, 76). Policy analysis applies scientific knowledge and the tools of neoclassical economics to rational decision-making in order to provide guidance to large corporations and the state (78-9). Social learning seeks to "overcome the contradictions between ... knowing and acting" and to bring about change through social dialogue and active engagement in the dialectical process of learning by doing (81-2). Social mobilization, a decidedly political project, challenges domination and oppression and seeks structural change and social transformation through "direct collective action 'from below'" and "scientific analysis, particularly in the form of social learning" (83). 2 responses to environmental problems, his overview of two centuries of planning suggests that there are two radically different responses to this planning challenge (38-9, 76-85). Social reform and policy analysis would tend to provide top-down societal guidance in the search for solutions that address environmental problems within the context of existing social structures. Social learning and social mobilization would tend to call for social transformation and adopt a participatory approach in the search for solutions that challenge the status quo. These two radically different planning responses to environmental problems—societal guidance and social transformation—are similar to those identified within the environmental literature. In Chapter 2,1 examine two sharply divergent perspectives on the environmental crisis. While both agree on the seriousness of the environmental crisis and on the need for action, they differ radically in how they understand and respond to this crisis. Those who see the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of technique' seek top-down solutions that may reform, but never fundamentally challenge, existing structures and values. Those who frame the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture' call for the active engagement of all in transforming cultural values and structures that are at the root of the crisis. In considering these divergent framings, I locate my own research in the context of the ecocentric discourse which understands the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture.' In doing so, the question arises as to which planning traditions are most consistent with this positioning. In comparing the planning ideologies of societal guidance and social transformation, it is clear that social reform and policy analysis are most consistent with the 'crisis of technique' perspective; 3 social learning and social mobilization with the 'crisis of culture.' What is not clear, however, is whether the planning traditions of social learning and social mobilization sufficiently challenge culturally dominant values and assumptions that contribute significantly to the environmental crisis. John Friedmann (1987, 311), for example, concludes his overview of planning by arguing that societal guidance in the form of top-down planning by the state is incapable of responding effectively to the crises before us. In challenging the notion that planning is "exclusively a function of the state" (298), he calls for the recovery of political community and a radical planning informed by the traditions of social learning and social mobilization (297-308, 389-412). The central project of this radical planning is "the emancipation of humanity from social oppression (my emphasis)" (301). Without dismissing the importance of social emancipation, this perspective ignores the oppression of nonhuman nature. A review of the emancipatory literature on the environmental crisis reveals what Robyn Eckersley (1992, 26) calls an "anthropocentric/ecocentric cleavage." The first approach ... [seeks] new opportunities for human emancipation and fulfilment in an ecologically sustainable society. The second approach pursues these same goals in the context of a broader notion of emancipation that also recognizes the moral standing of the nonhuman world and seeks to ensure that it, too, may unfold in its many diverse ways. The first perpetuates the dominant values and assumptions of western culture, the second seeks to transform them. Within the environmental literature, there have been growing concerns about the cultural roots of the environmental crisis. While the 'crisis of technique' fails to challenge the dominant values and assumptions of western culture, the 'crisis of culture' calls for a 4 fundamental rethinking of what it means to be human in the context of a nature to which we belong and on which we depend. Emerging out of the concrete environmental problems facing us today, the growing literature of environmental ethics urges a fundamental transformation in how we, as members of western culture, think and act. In contrast, the planning literature has paid scarce attention to the values and assumptions shaping planning responses to environmental problems (Beatley 1989; Jacobs 1995; Martin & Beatley 1993; Rees 1995a). Concerned that planning continues to reproduce rather than resolve environmental problems, there are growing calls for a planning framework informed by environmental ethics (Aberley 1994; Beatley 1989; Beavis 1991; Birkeland 1991, 1993a, 1993b; Jacobs 1995; Martin & Beatley 1993; Rees 1995a; Gardner & Roseland 1989; Sells 1991). In the context of a deepening environmental crisis, environmental ethics has much to teach us. 1.2 Learning From Environmental Ethics Timothy Beatley (1989, 2) offers several reasons why environmental ethics "has particular importance and relevance to planners and the field of planning." First, there is a clear and immediate need for those involved in the area of "environmental planning" to develop a theoretical and moral basis to support and guide their activities. Second and more fundamentally, virtually all facets of planning ... have direct impacts on the natural environment and as such confront the issue of environmental ethics. Environmental ethics, he argues, can help planners "to develop their moral positions toward and about the environment" (27). Despite the relevance of environmental ethics to planning, 5 a subsequent review of North American planning curricula produced disappointing results. In summarizing their research findings, Evelyn Martin & Timothy Beatley (1993, 123) conclude, it is discouraging that, after some two decades of highly prominent theoretical and practical contributions to the subject of environmental ethics by other fields, few planning programs seem to see the need to extensively examine the value or ethical presuppositions and foundations of land planning—especially of environmental planning. Despite worsening environmental problems and a growing literature on environmental ethics, they found "a paucity of planning literature devoted directly to environmental ethics" (118) and only a handful of planning programs teaching it. Where it is taught, the curricula tend to cover "more traditional anthropocentric and utilitarian perspectives" with less attention to the emerging theories of "biocentrism, ecocentrism, deep ecology, and ecofeminism" (124). Insisting on the relevance of these emerging theories, they argue, The unsustainability of many of our human settlement patterns and practices necessitates a much more profound understanding of our moral obligations to other people, other l iving creatures, and the earth. Planning schools have a responsibility to engage themselves and their students in this ethical debate, and to lay a normative foundation to guide professional practice (125). Noting that both planning and environmental ethics "are born from concerns about how to act in the world" Harvey Jacobs argues that these emerging theories challenge planning with their insistence that "root questions must be posed i f an action i f going to be effective, equitable, and sustainable" (1995, 99, 86). In examining "three of the more provocative strains within contemporary environmental ethics, those being deep ecology, ecofeminism, bioregionalism" (85), he argues that they challenge 6 the legitimacy of an abstract or contextless planning theory, the general anthropocentric orientation of planning theory and practice, the relationship of means (or process) and ends (or outcomes), and the loss of "place" as a specific basis for planning (95-6). While all three streams share these concerns, they differ in the emphasis they place on each. Deep ecology highlights the fact that "planning is disturbingly utilitarian and anthropocentric in its orientation" and "raises the issue of how to structure planning so that the nonhuman species ... receive a voice" (96-7). Ecofeminism emphasizes the importance of process. Insisting that "the very process of how we do things ... is intimately connected to the types of solutions that are crafted," ecofeminism calls for "processes that are more encompassing and empowering," and "suggests a more democratic conception of knowledge and expertise" with planners as "facilitators and legitimators" (97). Bioregionalism places great emphasis on the importance of "learning to live in place" and "the importance of [applying] intimate knowledge about place ... in the design of all the aspects of everyday life." In contrast to abstract and contextless planning, bioregionalism insists that planning "be based on the integrity of [physical and sociocultural] regions" (97-8). Arguing that these challenges to planning "should be taken quite seriously," Jacobs concludes -Contemporary environmental philosophy wants us, implores us, challenges us, not to be afraid to ask fundamental questions. ... [T]o the extent that we do not pose these underlying questions and then act upon their implications, our planning deeds may be irrelevant at best and counterproductive at worst. This is not the easy path; contemporary environmental philosophy would have us believe, though, that there is no other i f our goal is an effective, long-term, sustainable and equitable planning (99). Some planners are beginning to ask these fundamental questions (Aberley 1994; Beavis 1991; Birkeland 1991, 1993a, 1993b; Rees 1995a; Gardner & Roseland 1989; Sells 7 1991). In examining community strategies for equitable sustainable development, Julia Gardner and Mark Roseland (1989) identify ecofeminism, social ecology, bioregionalism, and deep ecology as some of the "uncommon wisdom" available to us in the development of these strategies. Janis Birkeland (1991, 1993b) brings an ecofeminist perspective to her critique of mainstream land use planning and environmental decision-making and calls for "the collective development of an ethics-based environmental decision-making system" (1993b, 29). A s she insists, If the fundamental purpose of Planning is to design a sustainable society, the basic function of Planning would be to ensure the prerequisites of sustainability; the preservation of cultural and natural heritage, peace, health, social justice and a safe, secure future (30). This ethics-based planning would be preventative in orientation (risk-aversive, conflict-resolving, keeping options open) and participatory in "determining collective social, economic and environmental goals in the long term public interest" (30). She warns that adopting an "open, educative and participatory process" presents a dilemma "as humanity is presently steeped in anthropocentric/Patriarchal values" (31). Nevertheless, she argues, it is only through such processes that we can begin to challenge and transform these underlying values and assumptions. 1.3 Introducing This Research Although the development of an ethics-based planning framework for sustainability is still in its infancy, the literature to date suggests that such a framework challenges the 8 epistemological, procedural, and ethical foundations of mainstream planning. This research seeks to advance our understanding of what such a planning framework would look like. I do this by drawing on the ecocentric literature, particularly ecofeminism, and on the insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women. I also draw selectively from feminist and feminist planning literatures. In the process, I explore feminist concerns about the marginalization of women from the processes by which we come to understand and respond to environmental problems, and contribute to the development of an action-oriented ecofeminism. In proposing an ecofeminist planning framework, this research contributes to the development of an ethics-based planning that challenges the oppression of human and nonhuman nature, male and female, and in all our differences. It also enhances our understanding of women's environmental activism in the context of western culture. Drawing on the Ecocentric Literature Given the lack of attention paid to environmental ethics within the planning literature, I have chosen to step outside of planning in order to explore four fundamental questions: (a) what is the nature of the environmental crisis; (b) what are the appropriate responses to this crisis; (c) who are the relevant actors in bringing about a resolution to this crisis; and (d) what knowledge is relevant to the decisions at hand? In Chapter 2,1 locate my research in the ecocentric discourse and draw on the literatures of deep ecology, social ecology, bioregionalism, and ecofeminism to explore four essential features of an ecocentric perspective: (a) the critique of western industrial culture; (b) the cultivation of an ecocentric 9 culture; (c) a participatory and democratic ethos; and (d) an expanded epistemology. A n ethics-based planning consistent with an ecocentric perspective would: (a) challenge culturally dominant structures and values, (b) contribute to the cultivation of an ecocentric culture committed to the well-being of human and nonhuman nature; (c) assume a participatory and emancipatory stance, and (d) be open to all knowledge that is relevant to the decisions at hand. Ultimately, this ethics-based planning encourages the active engagement of all in translating all relevant ways of knowing and ecocentric sensibilities into actions that sustain the well-being of human and nonhuman life on this planet. In the final chapter, I draw on the research findings to expand on this ecocentric planning framework. Raising Feminist Concerns Feminist planners have increasingly drawn attention to the androcentric bias of mainstream planning theory and practice (Eichler 1995; Greed 1994; MacGregor 1995; Mi l roy 1991; Sandercock & Forsyth 1992). As Leonie Sandercock & A n n Forsyth (1992, 55) put it, In mainstream planning theory women have scarcely been seen as subjects of theory. ... The paradigms on which planning and theorizing about it have been based are informed by characteristics traditionally associated with the masculine in our society. There is a need to rethink the foundations of the discipline, its epistemology, and its various methodologies. In developing an ethics-based planning framework consistent with an ecocentric perspective it is important to incorporate a feminist analysis to ensure that patriarchal values and structures are not reproduced. In Chapter 3,1 reflect on the urgent call for action emerging 10 within the sustainability discourse, and on the ecocentric call for cultural transformation, and raise feminist concerns about the marginalization of women's insights and experiences from male-dominated theories and practices. In searching for a transformative feminist framework that challenges both ecological destruction and the oppression of women, I examine feminist and ecofeminist literatures. To varying degrees, traditional feminist frameworks fail to challenge the values and structures that perpetuate the domination of nonhuman nature. They do, however, offer an analysis of patriarchal structures. Ecofeminism introduces feminist insights into our understanding of the environmental crisis and promises to provide the best framework. However, some ecofeminist theory has developed primarily within the ideological realm and has paid little attention to the structures that enable the domination of human and nonhuman nature to continue. In response, I support the call for the development of an action-oriented ecofeminist framework that draws on both feminist and ecofeminist literatures and on the felt concerns and lived experiences of environmentally active women. While the literature offers powerful critiques of western values and structures and can suggest the way forward, the insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women have much to teach us about the challenges that face us along the way. Learning From Environmentally Concerned and Active Women In defining a gender research agenda for planning, Sandercock and Forsyth (1992, 54) call for research on both "feminist planning practice and the relationship of feminist activism to planning." With the bulk of feminist planning literature focused on the human dimensions 11 of built and urban environments, however, little attention has been paid to the contributions that environmentally active women are making to how we understand and respond to environmental problems. A review of the environmental literature suggests that women's environmental concerns and activism are extensive and that women are making significant contributions to a growing grassroots environmental movement. The literature also suggests that patriarchy plays a role in marginalizing women's environmental concerns and insights and in frustrating their activism. Despite the extent and significance of women's environmental concern and activism, there is a lack of in-depth research into the subjective dimensions of women's environmental activism, particularly in the context of western industrial societies. A s a result, both the critical insights that women bring to their activism and the patriarchal barriers that women face in the course of their activism remain under-explored. In the North, most of the research to date has focused narrowly on women's activism around toxic wastes and there is a scarcity of research on women's environmental activism arising out of concern for nonhuman nature. In order to learn from the insights and experiences of women who are concerned about and active around concerns for nonhuman nature, I adopt a feminist methodology, in-depth qualitative methods, and an exploratory case study research strategy. In this case, I explore women's environmental activism in the context of growing concerns about the coastal temperate rainforests of Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Brit ish Columbia. In Chapter 4,1 describe and reflect on the research process. 12 In Part II of this research, I present the research findings. In Chapter 5,1 introduce both the women with whom I had in-depth conversations, and the global, provincial, and local contexts within which their environmental concerns and activism have emerged. In Chapters 6 to 9,1 present four major themes around which women framed their concerns, visions, and activism. These four themes are: (1) social and ecological fragmentation and the longing for connection and wholeness; (2) unsustainable livelihoods and lifestyles and the longing for gentle ways of l iving; (3) failed processes and the longing for inclusive and community-based processes; (4) destructive ways of being and the longing for life-affirming values and gentle ways of being. In each chapter, I alternate women's own stories with my personal reflections which draw on both their stories and relevant literatures. In Part III, I discuss the significance of the research findings in light of feminist concerns about the marginalization of women, and discuss the implications of the findings for an action-oriented ecofeminism and an ethics-based planning. 13 C H A P T E R 2 SUSTAINABILITY AS C O N T E S T E D T E R R A I N : L O C A T I N G THIS R E S E A R C H IN T H E E C O C E N T R I C DISCOURSE 2.1 The Contested Terrain Of Sustainability Discourses I begin this chapter by asking how planning can best respond to growing environmental problems so as to contribute to long-term sustainability. In searching through the literature on sustainability and sustainable development, however, I find no easy answers. A s anyone familiar with the discourses on the environmental crisis and sustainability w i l l agree, this is contested terrain (Eckersley 1992; M i t l i n 1992; Redclift 1987; Rees 1989, 1995a). Among those who agree that there is an environmental crisis, there are disagreements as to both the seriousness and nature of this crisis. Diana M i t l i n (1992), for example, points out that within the discourses on sustainability, there is little agreement as to what this means, how it can be achieved, or what the root causes of unsustainability are. Given the contested nature of this discourse, it is necessary to locate my own research within it in order to answer the planning question I have posed. To locate this research within the 14 context of a burgeoning body of literature, I begin by addressing two fundamental questions: (1) is there an environmental crisis; and i f so (2) what is the nature of this crisis? Is There An Environmental Crisis? In November 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a warning to all of humanity, listing signs of critical environmental stress and warning of impending ecological collapse and vast human misery i f current practices remained unchecked. B y December 1992, "The Warning" had been signed "by over 1500 scientists from 64 countries, including the majority of the living Nobel Laureates in the sciences" (UCS 1992, 5). Together, these scientists have called on the world's peoples to jo in with them in bringing about the urgent fundamental changes required "to avoid the collision our present course w i l l bring about" (5-6). "The Warning" is but one of many urgent calls for action that have been issued over the past quarter of a century. A s Robyn Eckersley (1992, 11-13) points out, although warnings of ecological degradation can be traced back to the 1950s, it was the publication of two reports in 1972 that brought to the world's attention both the seriousness and global dimensions of environmental problems. The Club of Rome's Limits to Growth (Meadows et al. 1972), and The Ecologist magazine's Blueprint for Survival (Goldsmith et al. 1972), although different in many respects, shared the perspective that the environmental crisis facing us was a 'crisis of survival'. Exponential growth in resource consumption and human population within the context of a finite planet posed serious threats to both the earth's support systems and to the survival of humanity. 15 These warnings have not been without their detractors. Resistance to the framing of the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of survival' has appeared mainly in the form of "technological optimism" (Costanza 1989, 2-3). In denying the seriousness of the situation, various authors have questioned the methodological rigour of the research, challenged the notion of finite limits to growth, resisted the call for fundamental changes to existing practices, and offered a myriad of "technological fixes" (Eckersley 1992, 12). Behind this technological optimism is a deep faith that any perceived limits or threats of future scarcity can be circumvented through human ingenuity and technological and scientific advances (Simon 1980; Simon & Kahn 1984). Robert Costanza (1989) contrasts this "technological optimism" with an opposing "technological pessimism" which questions this faith in technological solutions and assumes that there are real limits to growth. After 15 years and thousands of studies, however, he admits that "there is still an enormous amount of uncertainty about the impacts of energy and resource constraints" (5). Given this level of uncertainty, those who see the environmental crisis as real argue that the prudent course is to err on the side of caution and to pursue risk-aversive, rather than risk-taking courses of action (Costanza 1989; Pearce, Markandya & Barbier 1989; Rees 1995a). A s Costanza (1989, 4) argues, "If... we pursue the optimistic policy and the world turns out to conform more closely to the pessimistic technological assumptions then the result would be 'Disaster'." This call for "prudent pessimism" (Pearce, Markandya, & Barbier 1989, 10), and the framing of environmental problems as a 'crisis of survival' have been reinforced by many studies and reports. 16 The Worldwatch Institute, for instance, has been publishing its annual State of the World report since 1984. On the occasion of its fifth report in 1988, a review of the earth's vital signs revealed record rates of deforestation, desertification and soil erosion, as well as disturbing signs of species extinction, toxic contamination of land and water, ozone depletion, and global warming. A s the authors commented, "The readings are not reassuring" (Brown & Flavin 1988, 3). Five years later, the foreword to the tenth State of the World report confirmed that, despite some promising new trends, "all the major trends of degradation that existed a decade ago have continued" (Brown, Flavin & Postel 1993, xvii) . Cit ing unsustainable economic practices as significant contributors to these trends, and noting the linkages between economic unsustainability, ecological degradation, and social disintegration, Lester Brown (1993, 21) issued an urgent call for swift and fundamental economic transformation. A s he warned, If we fail to convert our self-destructing economy into one that is environmentally sustainable, future generations wi l l be overwhelmed by environmental degradation and social disintegration. Simply stated, i f our generation does not turn things around, our children may not have the option of doing so. The challenge of developing an environmentally sustainable economy has been central to the emerging field of ecological economics (Costanza 1989; Daly & Cobb 1989; Rees 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995a, 1995b; Wackernagel & Rees 1996); and within the international literature challenging the dominant western development model (Ecologist 1993; Ekins & Max-Neef 1992; Henderson 1991; Korten 1990; Shiva 1988; Waring 1988). 17 The urgent and interlocking nature of the ecological crisis was an over-riding theme of Our Common Future, the influential publication of the World Commission on Environment and Development ( W C E D 1987). A s the Commission points out, "Ecology and economy are becoming ever more interwoven—locally, regionally, nationally, and globally— into a seamless net of causes and effects" (5). Noting the complex linkages between environmental stresses, economic development, and social and political inequities, they call for a new approach to development "that integrates production with resource conservation and enhancement, and that links both to the provision for all of an adequate livelihood base and equitable access to resources" (40). For the Commission, the concept of sustainable development embraces both intra- and inter-generational equity in that it "seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future" (40). To avert ecological, economic, and social disasters, however, the Commission insists on the need for "decisive political action now" (1). While these and other warnings differ both in their descriptions of the crises and the prescriptions for effective action, they share the following assumptions: (1) the ecological crisis is real and of global dimensions; (2) the ecological crisis is intimately linked to, and cannot be dealt with in isolation from, complex economic, social, and political issues; (3) the ecological crisis threatens the well-being and survival of humanity; and (4) urgent action is required to avert ecological collapse and human misery. Hope, for the authors of these reports, lies in the rising numbers of the world's people who acknowledge and are concerned about this ecological crisis, and on the successful translation of this concern into effective 18 actions. In lamenting on their failure to produce an upbeat State of the World report, for instance, the Worldwatch Institute makes the following observation: Unfortunately, not enough people are working yet to reverse the trends of decline for us to write such a report. We are falling far short in our efforts. On the plus side, concern about the earth's future is continuing to rise throughout the world, giving us hope that the degradation w i l l one day be reversed (Brown, Flavin & Postel 1993, xvi i ) . For those worried about the signs of ecological collapse, lack of widespread concern is a serious barrier to sustainability (Macy 1983; Milbrath 1989; Postel 1992). Ralph Milbrath (1989), for instance, points out that many people either deny that there is a problem, or deny the seriousness of the problem. The problem, he argues, is not a lack of information. "Many studies have been conducted, the results have been publicized, and the information is literally thrust at people who wi l l listen" (17). Despite the availability of this information, many people are choosing not to listen, or choosing not to take the information seriously. Sandra Postel (1992, 4) points out that this denial "often runs particularly deep among those with heavy stakes in the status quo, including the political and business leaders with power to shape the global agenda." For Postel and others who see the seriousness of the environmental crisis, the planet's fate is linked to our ability to overcome the paralysing effects of denial, and to move from concern to action. A s she remarks, "Extraordinary change is possible when enough courageous people grasp the need for it and become wil l ing to act" (Postel 1992, 8). Her call to action, however, raises the question of which actions are most appropriate and effective. A s the next section shows, how we frame the environmental crisis shapes how we understand and respond to it. 19 The Nature of the Environmental Crisis The naming or framing of a concern contains within it the power to both describe and prescribe (Janeway 1980; Schon 1980). How we name or frame the environmental crisis, then, is of tremendous importance for it shapes both our understanding of the crisis and our prescriptions for appropriate action. In examining the framing of environmental crises, authors have tended to distinguish between two sharply divergent perspectives. A s examples we have Timothy O'Riordan's (1981) distinction between technocentric and ecocentric modes, David Orr's (1992) distinction between technological sustainability and ecological sustainability, Arne Naess' (1993) distinction between shallow and deep ecology, and Robyn Eckersley's (1992) location of major streams of environmentalism on a continuum between the two poles of anthropocentrism and ecocentrism. These different framings of the environmental crisis provide radically different answers to the following questions: (a) what is the nature of the crisis; (b) what are the appropriate responses to this crisis; (c) who are the relevant actors in bringing about a resolution to this crisis; and (d) what knowledge is relevant to the decisions at hand? Underlying these two perspectives are (e) fundamentally different beliefs about the nature of reality and the place of humankind in it. A s O'Riordan (1981, 2) cautions, however, we need to be careful not to "divide the world neatly" into these two camps but rather to see these two perspectives as representing the two poles on a continuum of responses to environmental problems. With that in mind, it is worth identifying the fundamental differences between these perspectives. 20 A crisis of technique. Those who frame the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of technique' seek to resolve environmental problems within the context of existing belief systems and structures.' This technocratic, technological, shallow, or anthropocentric approach to environmental problems argues that environmental problems are the result of poor technique—poor planning, inadequate management, inappropriate technology, or bad science. Solutions are to be found in 'doing things better'—in improved science and technology, rational planning, better policies, and effective management. The proposed solutions may reform, but do not fundamentally challenge, existing socio-political structures and belief systems. Responsibility for solving environmental problems is placed in the hands of political and professional experts/elites who regard public participation as an intrusion by the "uninformed" (O'Riordan 1981, 13). The 'informed' are the holders of rational and value-free scientific and technical knowledge who, with this knowledge, are able to "predict, manipulate, and control" (Eckersley 1992, 51). Underlying this framing is a worldview that is anthropocentric and mechanistic. Anthropocentrism places humans and human culture at the centre of moral consideration. Humans are seen as separate from and superior to the rest of nature. Consequently the well-being of humans takes precedence over the well-being of nonhuman nature, and "nonhuman nature is there for no other purpose but to serve humankind" (Eckersley 1992, 51). Mechanism sees reality as made up of discrete atomic parts that can be understood in isolation from their context, and that function according to 1 By structures I mean those sets of instituted policies, procedures, roles, and condoned behaviours that serve to produce and reproduce existing social relations and practices. Bowles and Gintis (1986, 98) describe these as the "rules of the game" that structure social action. As human actors, we are both shaped by and shapers of these rules (Berger& Luckmann 1985; Bowles & Gintis 1986). 21 mechanical laws. This mechanical framework views nature "as a system of dead, inert particles moved by external, rather than inherent forces" (Merchant 1980, 193) and sanctions the management and control of nature for the benefit of humankind. A crisis of culture. Those who frame the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture' argue that environmental problems cannot be resolved within the context of existing belief systems and structures. This ecocentric, ecological, or deep approach to the environmental crisis locates the roots of the crisis in the values, beliefs, and structures of western industrial culture. Long-lasting solutions to environmental problems wi l l require radical changes to how we think and act. Central to these changes is a fundamental re-thinking of what it is to be human in the larger context of nonhuman nature, and "a willingness to question ... every economic and political policy in public" (Naess 1993, 416). Implicit in this prescription is a call for both personal and structural transformation, and a participatory ethos that encourages both personal engagement with nonhuman nature and increased participation in decision-making processes. Science and appropriate technologies have a role to play, but there are other forms of knowledge and other ways of knowing that can guide us in our efforts to live within the ecological limits of our place in nature. Underlying this framing is a worldview that is both ecocentric and "ecologically informed" (Eckersley 1992, 49). Ecocentrism sees humankind as part of nature, and recognizes the inherent worth of both "human and nonhuman Life on Earth" (Naess 1993, 412). Beyond the satisfaction of vital needs, humans have no right to diminish the well-being of other life forms (Naess 1993, 412). A n ecologically informed understanding of reality is based on the principle of internal 22 relatedness which sees "the world [as] an intrinsically dynamic, interconnected web of relations in which there are no absolutely discrete entities" (Eckersley 1992, 49). A s active participants in this web of relations, organisms are both shaped by, and shapers of these relationships. This ecological sensibility sees nature as "active and alive" (Merchant 1980, 293) and fosters an ethic of "reverence, humility, responsibility, and care" (O'Riordan 1981, 1) towards nonhuman nature. In summary, while these two perspectives agree on the urgency of the environmental crisis, and on the need for action, they differ radically in both their understanding of this crisis and in their prescriptions for appropriate actions. Embedded in their prescribed solutions are radically different assumptions about who the active participants in the resolution of this crisis should be, and about what knowledge is relevant to the decisions at hand. Underlying these two perspectives are radically different belief systems about the nature of reality and humankind's place in it. Locating This Research In the Sustainability Discourses In considering the contested terrain of sustainability discourses, I locate this research in the context of the ecocentric discourse which understands the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture.' While agreeing that we do, indeed, face a 'crisis of survival,' an ecocentric perspective contextualizes and expands on how we understand this crisis. Firstly, an ecocentric perspective locates the roots of the 'crisis of survival' in the values, beliefs and 23 structures of western industrial culture and calls for radical changes in how we, in western culture, think and act. Secondly, an ecocentric perspective frames the 'crisis of survival' in ecocentric rather than anthropocentric terms. While an anthropocentric perspective concerns itself solely with human survival, an ecocentric perspective is concerned about the well-being and survival of both human and nonhuman life on Earth. In response to urgent calls for action, an ecocentric perspective calls for the active engagement of all in challenging the roots of ecological destruction and in coming to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human in the context of a nature to which we belong. In the process of translating concern into action, all ways of knowing that w i l l help us to learn to live within the limits of our place on Earth are relevant. The framing of the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture' is expanded upon in the next section. 2.2 An Overview of The Ecocentric Discourse A glance through two journals, Environmental Ethics and Environmental History Review, reveals both a common concern with the historical and cultural roots of the environmental crisis and the call for cultural transformation, and over 15 years of dialogue and debates arising from the differing emphases and interpretations given to the descriptions of and prescriptions for today's environmental crisis. In short, this literature represents an attempt, primarily by western writers, to reflect on the unecological nature of our own western culture. It is an attempt to see with a critical eye that within which we are embedded. A s to be expected of any evolving body of literature, there are disagreements, fragments of 24 thoughts, and changes of mind and heart along the way. Despite these disagreements, it is possible to identify several emerging themes within the literature that frames the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture.' In weaving together an ecocentric perspective, I draw primarily from the developing theories of deep ecology, social ecology, bioregionalism, and ecofeminism. These developing streams of ecocentric thought have in common four essential features of an ecocentric perspective: (a) the critique of western industrial culture; (b) the cultivation of an ecocentric culture; (c) a participatory and democratic ethos; and (d) an expanded epistemology. There are, however, important differences among these bodies of literature, both in terms of the particular contributions they make to an ecocentric perspective, and in the debates and differences between them. Deep ecology focuses on the development of a critique of anthropocentrism and the domination by humans of nonhuman nature; and on the cultivation of an expanded sense of self—the 'ecological self—which extends the boundaries of self-identification.2 Deep ecology articulates a philosophical and spiritual worldview that has two ultimate norms—self-realization and biocentric equality. It advocates simple living within the context of self-2 There has been some confusion in the literature between the terms "deep ecology" and the "deep ecology movement". My discussion of deep ecology focuses mainly on Arne Naess' ecocentric philosophy of life, Ecosophy T, as elaborated on by others. Ecosophy T is sometimes also called deep ecology, not to be confused with the deep ecology movement. Ecosophy T is one of a multitude of diverse ecosophies, and is based on such ultimate norms as self-realization for all beings, and ecocentric egalitarianism in principle: the realized ecological Self is a wide relational self. The deep ecology movement, on the other hand, "is characterized by its platform principles, which do not represent an ultimate philosophy or ism" (Drengson 1997, 110). As Alan Drengson explains, "Many people support the movement, on a world wide basis, even though they subscribe to different ultimate philosophies, such as Taoism, Buddhism, Pantheism, Ecosophy T etc." (personal communication, September 1997). See Harold Glasser (1997) for a recent discussion of these matters. For a summary of the platform principles of the deep ecology movement, see Devall & Sessions (1985, 70). 25 regulating communities; and direct action and ecological resistance as means to bring about the necessary changes (Devall 1988; Devall & Sessions 1985; Evernden 1985; Fox 1989; LaChapelle 1988; Livingston 1981; Naess 1989). Social ecology, developed primarily by Murray Bookchin, locates the roots of the ecological crisis in the domination of humans by humans and calls for the elimination of domination in all its forms. The transformation to an ecological society requires both a participatory and emancipatory politics and the development of the capacity for ecological thinking. The challenge is to discover ways to fit social evolution within natural evolution. Decentralized, face-to-face democratic eco-communities are an essential feature of the social ecology vision. Social ecologists are critical of deep ecology's failure to address the social roots of the environmental crisis and the consequent tendency to pit all of humanity against nonhuman nature (Bookchin 1980, 1989, 1990; Biehl 1991). Bioregionalism is based on the recognition that the unsustainable practices of western industrial society have disrupted land-based and life-sustaining cultures and have produced an uprooted and homeless culture with little sense of connection to ecological or cultural place. Favouring decentralization and local community control, bioregionalism calls for the reinhabitation of rural and urban places—the recovery our capacity to live in socially and ecologically responsible ways within the limits and possibilities of our place (Aberley 1993; Andruss et al 1990; Berg 1978; Berg & Dasmann 1990; Meyer & Moosang 1992; Plant & Plant 1990; Sale 1985). Ecofeminism brings a distinctly feminist perspective to the ecocentric discourse. Ecofeminists focus on revealing the links between the domination of nature by humans and the domination of women by men; and on challenging patriarchal conceptual frameworks that sanction and perpetuate the 26 domination of both human and nonhuman nature. A s both a critical social theory and a grassroots activist movement, ecofeminism opposes domination in all its forms and urges a synthesis of feminist and ecological principles in resolving the environmental problems facing us today. There are differences within ecofeminism as to the role of women in bringing about this cultural transformation; and challenges to the patriarchal biases within deep ecology (Diamond & Orenstein 1990; Eisler 1987; Gaard 1993c; Merchant 1980, 1996; Plant 1989; Plumwood 1993; Salleh 1984, 1992; Shiva 1988; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994c). These four ecocentric streams are not mutually exclusive. There are, for example, ecofeminists who consider themselves bioregionalists and/or social ecologists; and deep ecologists who identify with the bioregional movement. While acknowledging the different theoretical developments taking place within the ecocentric discourse, my interest is not in exploring the various tensions and differences that exist within the literature. The one exception is the ecofeminist literature, which I w i l l explore in greater depth in the next chapter. M y purpose in this section is to draw selectively from deep ecology, social ecology, bioregionalism, and ecofeminism in order to come to a better understanding of the 'crisis of culture' and how best to respond to it. This understanding can contribute to the development of an ethics-based planning that is consistent with an ecocentric perspective. In the following sections, I explore four essential features of an ecocentric perspective: (a) the critique of western industrial culture; (b) the cultivation of an ecocentric culture; (c) a participatory and democratic ethos; and (d) an expanded epistemology. 27 The Critique of Western Industrial Culture In framing the environmental crisis as a 'crisis of culture,' the ecocentric discourse concerns itself with the historical and cultural roots of the environmental crisis. The developing ecocentric critique of western industrial culture challenges: (a) a western belief system (or worldview) that is both anthropocentric and mechanistic; and (b) social relations built on hierarchy and domination. Within this critique are those who remind us that (c) the environmental crisis has been historically and socially constructed. The western worldview. Worldviews are sets of beliefs and assumptions—'stories'--about how the world is, and should be (Berry 1988; Evernden 1985; Merchant 1980, 1989; Milbrath 1989). A s such, they act as powerful shapers of both consciousness and action. It is little wonder, then, that many theorists have attempted to gain an understanding of the roots of today's environmental crisis by examining the values, beliefs, and assumptions reflected in the stories of western industrial culture. While recognizing that any articulation of the "Dominant Western Worldview" would be "somewhat arbitrary," Wi l l iam Catton Jr. and Riley Dunlap (1980, 17-18) list the following as four basic beliefs: (1) People are fundamentally different from all other creatures on earth, over which they have dominion. (2) People are masters [sic] of their destiny; they can choose their goals and learn to do whatever is necessary to achieve them. (3) The world is vast, and thus provides unlimited opportunities for humans. 28 (4) The history of humanity is one of progress; for every problem there is a solution, and thus progress need never cease. The anthropocentrism and technological optimism contained within these beliefs lead Catton and Dunlap to declare the Dominant Western Worldview "patently unecological" (18). Others agree and offer their own articulations of this unecological worldview (Berman 1984; Capra 1982; Coates 1981; Devall & Sessions 1985; Drengson 1980; Merchant 1980, 1989; 1992; Milbrath 1985, 1989; Sale 1985). Critics argue that the sanctioned domination and exploitation of nature, human arrogance, technological optimism, materialistic orientation, linear progress, expansionary ethos, centralized authority, and an emphasis on management and control are central characteristics of western industrial culture. While differing in their detailed expressions of the Dominant Western Worldview, the various authors agree that it is the cultural expression of a 'story' that is both anthropocentric and mechanistic. Although spoken of separately, anthropocentrism and mechanism are intricately interwoven into a set of assumptions about the nature of reality and the place of humankind in it. In placing humans and human cultures at the centre of moral consideration, anthropocentrism reflects the fundamental human-'nature'3 conceptual dualism found within western industrial culture (Devall & Sessions 1985; Eckersley 1992; Livingston 1981; Merchant 1980; Naess 1989; Plumwood 1993; Shiva 1988). Extracted from, and placed 3 Because the conceptual dualism separates humans from the rest of nature, the use of the word nature is problematic. For the purpose of clarity, I use the word nature to refer to the inclusive concept of nature (humans are part of this nature), and the word 'nature' to refer to the conceptual dualism that excludes humans. While I adopt the ecocentric perspective that humans are part of nature, I often refer to human nature and nonhuman nature to clarify and/or emphasize a point. 29 above, the complex web of life on this planet, humans and human cultures are seen as 'not nature.' Anthropocentrism sees humans as different from, separate from, and superior to the rest of creation over which they have dominion. The well-being of humans takes precedence over the well-being of non-human nature and "nonhuman nature is there for no other purpose but to serve humankind" (Eckersley 1992, 51). 'Nature' has value to the extent that it serves as an instrument or resource in the satisfaction of human needs and purposes (Plumwood 1993). Without this instrumental or resource value, nonhuman nature is without value, often invisible, and expendable. Closely related to anthropocentrism, mechanism assumes that the world functions like a machine and can be understood in terms of mechanical laws. Carolyn Merchant (1980, 234) outlines five basic assumptions of the mechanistic understanding of reality: ... the mechanical structure of reality (1) is made up of atomic parts, (2) consists of discrete information bits extracted from the world, (3) is assumed to operate according to laws and rules, (4) is based on context-free abstraction from the changing complex world of appearance, and (5) is defined so as to give us maximum capability for manipulation and control over nature. This mechanistic framework reduces nonhuman nature from a living, productive, active force to "a system of dead, inert particles moved by external, rather than inherent forces" (Merchant 1980, 193). While anthropocentrism separates and inferiorizes nonhuman nature, mechanism provides the means by which 'nature' can be managed, manipulated, and exploited to meet the needs and wishes of humankind. Embedded within a mechanistic understanding of reality are conceptual dualisms that not only separate humans from 'nature,' but that fragment and order the mind over body, and matter over spirit (Berman 1984, 1990; 30 Drengson 1980; Griffin 1988c; Griffin 1989; Merchant 1992; Mumford 1970). A s Carolyn Merchant (1992, 48) points out, "the machine has permeated and reconstructed human consciousness so totally that today we scarcely question its validity." A technological fix is now applied equally to 'nature,' social processes, and the human body (Drengson 1980, 228-9; Merchant 1992, 48). The effect of this anthropocentric and mechanistic worldview is an "alienated consciousness" (Berman 1984, 3) that "not only alienates humans from the rest of Nature but also alienates humans from themselves and from each other" (Devall & Sessions 1985, 48). Disembodied from our sensate and spiritual selves, and isolated from the world around us, we go about our lives in a world with little sense of belonging (Berman 1984, 3). In speaking of the dualistic splits between human and 'nature,' mind and body, matter and spirit, Susan Griffin (1989, 7) describes the "split culture" of western industrial society: "We who are born into this civilization have inherited a habit of mind. We are divided against ourselves. We no longer feel ourselves to be a part of this earth. We regard our fellow creatures as enemies. A n d , very young, we even learn to disown a part of our own being." Hierarchical social structures. Accompanying the anthropocentric and mechanistic beliefs of western culture are social structures characterized by hierarchy and domination (Biehl 1991; Bookchin 1980, 1989; Devall & Sessions 1985; D'Souza 1989; Galtung 1980; K i n g 1990; Merchant 1980, 1989, 1992; Warren 1987, 1990). Together these beliefs and structures shape our thoughts and our actions; they justify and enable the exploitation and 31 domination of both human and nonhuman nature. But while the ecocentric discourse has paid much attention to the 'stories' of western culture, less attention has been paid to the social structures that keep these stories in place (Bookchin 1989; Eckersley 1992). Murray Bookchin (1989, 17) urges us to pay attention to social structures, arguing that "humans have developed ways of relating to each other through institutions that, more than any single factor, determine how they deal with the natural world." Institutions, explain Berger & Luckmann (1985, 72), are established or structured patterns of interacting that channel our activities "in one direction as against the many other directions that would theoretically be possible." Informed by an anthropocentric and mechanistic belief system, the institutions of western culture channel activities towards the exploitation and domination of nature. In examining the nature of these institutions, however, it is clear that not everyone influences decisions to the same degree, and not everyone benefits equally from the domination of nature. A s Johan Galtung (1980) points out, social structures within western culture are characterized by unequal exchanges that have the effect of channelling both decision-making power and resources toward an elite few. These inequitable exchanges take many forms-economic, political, military, social, cultural, and communicative—and take place on global, national, regional, and local levels. A nested and interlocking set of inequitable exchanges, together with anthropocentric and mechanistic beliefs, have enabled and sanctioned the exploitation and domination of both human and nonhuman nature, and have led to gross social and economic inequities and widespread ecological destruction (Galtung 1980; Merchant 1980, 1989; Shiva 1988). 32 The social construction of the crisis. Despite the fact that the dominant belief systems and structures of western culture are accepted as 'common sense,' these ways of thinking and acting did not always exist. As many argue, the environmental crisis as we know it is a product of historical forces that have given rise to inappropriate and ecologically destructive interactions with nonhuman nature (Berman 1984, 1990; Bi rd 1987; Bookchin 1989; Eisler 1987; Evernden 1985; Hughes 1993; Merchant 1980, 1987, 1989; White 1967; Worster 1987). While the roots of today's crisis can be traced to earlier times, (Berman 1984; Eisler 1987; Hughes 1993; White 1967), the developments that took place within 15th to 17th century Europe are seen as particularly significant in the transformation from organic to mechanistic worldviews (Berman 1984; Merchant 1980, 1989; Worster 1987). Up to this time, many still saw themselves as intimately connected to and participating in an enchanted world in which nonhuman nature was sacred, productive, and alive. The 'ecological revolution' (Merchant 1987, 1989) that took place in Europe during this period succeeded in transforming both this consciousness and existing social structures. Carolyn Merchant (1989, 23) describes ecological revolutions as "processes through which different societies change their relationship to nature. They arise from tensions between production and ecology and between production and reproduction. The results are new constructions of nature, both materially and in human consciousness." The features of an ecological revolution are difficult to discuss in isolation (Berman 1984; Merchant 1989; Worster 1987). A s an interwoven whole, they form "a structured totality or historical gestalt" (Berman 1984, 38). They shape and co-define each other. 33 Within 15th to 17th century Europe, the scientific and industrial revolutions, the collapse of feudalism and the emergence and expansion of capitalism, and the rise of liberal thought all converged to profoundly transform social relations and European consciousness. A disenchanted and mechanistic science, together with powerful technologies, sanctioned and enabled the widespread exploitation and destruction of'nature.' The emergence and expansion of capitalism radically transformed subsistence-based economies, reducing both 'nature' and human labour to commodities for sale in the marketplace, concentrating 'productive' labour outside the home, and relegating all other productive and nonproductive work to the margins (Merchant 1980; Polanyi 1977). A liberal philosophy "based on the concept of possessive individualism generated an image of an individual who owed nothing to society" (D'Souza 1989, 29). Supported by the emerging concept of private property rights, this liberal philosophy encouraged the pursuit of self-interest and economic rationality "unembarrassed by too many moral or aesthetic sentiments" (Worster 1987, 94). Freed from the bonds of commitment and obligation to the Earth and community, lured by promises of material progress, enabled by technological innovations, and convinced that 'nature' was there to serve humankind, "everything came to seem possible" (Worster 1987, 101). But everything was not possible to everyone equally. The ecological revolution that replaced an organic worldview with an anthropocentric and mechanistic understanding of reality simply transformed existing feudal relations into another set of inequitable social structures. Communal relations within peasant communities were fragmented; and feudal lords were replaced with a new industrial, capitalist, scientific, intellectual, religious, and political elite. In the name of 'progress,' this emerging elite promoted the expansion of western industrial 34 culture within Europe and across the globe, leaving behind them a trail of ecological degradation, marginalized indigenous cultures, and dispossessed peoples (Bookchin 1989; Merchant 1980, 1989; Mies 1986; Shiva 1988). In the context of hierarchical social structures, a dominant elite continue to disproportionately influence the social negotiations that have resulted in inappropriate interactions with nonhuman nature and that have produced the environmental crisis we face today (Bird 1987; Bookchin 1989; Merchant 1987, 1989). The Cultivation of an Ecocentric Culture From an ecocentric perspective, the environmental problems facing us cannot be resolved within existing belief systems and structures. If the roots of this crisis are cultural, so are the solutions. The call for the cultivation of an ecocentric culture is two-fold: (a) the cultivation of an ecological consciousness; and (b) the creation of supportive social structures. A s with the ecological revolution from organicism to mechanism, (c) the transformation to an ecocentric culture wi l l be socially constructed—shaped by social and historical forces that give rise to new meanings, social structures, and relationships to nature. The ecocentric challenge is to influence the processes by which we come to understand and interact with nonliuman nature. Cultivating an ecological consciousness. For some, a growing awareness of the values and beliefs embedded in the western worldview has inspired the articulation of a contrasting ecological worldview capable of guiding us towards a sustainable future. 35 Drengson's (1980) person-planetary paradigm, Catton & Dunlap's (1980) new ecological paradigm, Milbrath's (1985, 1989) new environmental paradigm, Sale's (1985) bioregional paradigm, and Devall & Session's (1985) deep ecology worldview are examples of such attempts. A s an example, Devall & Sessions (1985, 69) contrast the Dominant Worldview with the values underlying Deep Ecology: Harmony with Nature A l l nature has intrinsic worth/biospecies equality Elegantly simple material needs (material goals serving the larger goal of self-realization) Earth "supplies" limited Appropriate technology; nondominating science Doing with enough/recycling Minori ty tradition [self-regulating communitiesj/bioregion The intrinsic value of human and nonhuman nature; attitudes of humility, compassion, and care; technological caution and appropriateness; a conserver orientation and emphasis on non-materialist values; the recognition of ecological limits; decentralized control; self-reliant communities; and participatory democracy are common themes found within proposed ecological worldviews. The strength of these articulations, argues Duncan Taylor (1992, 32), is their "ability to act as a forum from which to engage in a sustained critique of the dominant values and assumptions underlying modern Western society." The danger is that they tend to simply construct mirror images of the dominant western paradigm and to perpetuate, rather than challenge, the either-or dualistic thinking characteristic of western thought (Berman 1990; Taylor 1992; Plumwood 1993). While the construction of an alternative worldview may make us feel safe, Morris Berman (1990, 312) suggests that it is reflexivity rather than 36 the creation of a new ecological paradigm that w i l l provide us with the tools "for breaking away from this vertical, binary pathology." The focus of much of this reflexivity has been the anthropocentric human-'nature' dualism which has given rise to an alienated consciousness and inappropriate interactions with nonhuman nature. For the cultivation of an ecocentric culture, it is essential that this dualism be challenged and that we fundamentally re-think what it means to be human in the context of a nature to which we belong. This re-thinking involves the transformation from a human-centred to an ecocentric perspective which locates humans and human cultures in the context of the larger community of life (Eckersley 1992; Devall & Sessions 1985; Fox 1989; Macy 1994; Naess 1989; Taylor 1994). Aldo Leopold (1966, 239) expresses this sensibility when he calls for a land ethic that "enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." This land ethic, he argues, changes the role of humans "from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it" (240). Being a responsible member of this land-community requires the cultivation of an ecological consciousness which locates the self in the context of an interconnected and dynamic web of life, and which recognizes and respects the intrinsic value of a l l life on earth. Both human and nonliuman nature "have an equal right to live and blossom" (Naess 1989, 28) and humans have no right to diminish the well-being of other life forms beyond the satisfaction of "vital needs" (29). This egalitarian attitude of intrinsic worth extends to "all entities (including humans) the freedom to unfold in their own way unhindered by the various forms of human domination" (Fox 1989, 6). Rather than simply reverse the human-37 'nature' dualism in order to privilege nonhuman over human nature, this egalitarian attitude seeks what Robyn Eckersley (1992, 53) calls "emancipation writ large" (my emphasis). A s she explains, a truly ecocentric perspective sees each human individual and each human culture as just as entitled to live and blossom as any other species, provided they do so in a way that is sensitive to the needs of other human individuals, communities, and cultures, and other life-forms generally (56). Such a perspective, she argues, "necessarily supports social justice in the human community" (56). In contrast to the individualistic, egoistic, and alienated self cultivated within western culture, an ecocentric perspective encourages the cultivation of an ecological self which identifies with, and seeks self-realization within, the context of a larger 'Self,' "where 'Self stands for organic wholeness" (Devall & Sessions 1985, 67). A s V a l Plumwood (1991, 1992, 1993) points out, however, there are various interpretations as to how the self is to identify with the dynamic whole within which it is embedded. She identifies four accounts of the self contained within the literature: (1) the holistic self which denies the existence of any boundaries between human and nonhuman nature and which sees the self as merging with and indistinguishable from the cosmic whole (Plumwood 1993, 176-7); (2) the expanded self which enlarges and extends the sense of self to include an identification with all other beings with whom we feel empathy (Plumwood 1993, 179); (3) the transcended or transpersonal self which transcends the personal and particular self in favour of an impartial and universal identification with the cosmos (Plumwood 1993, 181); and (4) the relational self which sees 38 the self as self-in-relationship, acknowledges both kinship with and difference from other earth beings, and cultivates relationships of care for self and other (Plumwood 1993, 154-160). Underlying notions of the ecological self is an ecocentric and ecologically informed understanding of reality. A s Robyn Eckersley (1992, 49) explains, Ecocentrism is based on an ecologically informed philosophy of internal relatedness. according to which all organisms are not simply interrelated with their environment but also constituted by those very environmental interrelationships. ... [T]he world is an intrinsically dynamic, interconnected web of relations in which there are no absolutely discrete entities and no absolute dividing lines between the living and the nonliving, the animate and the inanimate, or the human and the nonhuman. Embedded in this dynamic web of relations, organisms—both human and nonhuman—are both shaped by and shapers of the relationships between self and others. In affirming the intrinsic value of all life, and in acknowledging both connection to and dependence on earth others, an ecocentric and ecologically informed understanding of reality encourages the cultivation of responsible relationships with earth others, including future generations (LaChappelle 1988; Plumwood 1993). A guiding ethic encourages relations based on "reverence, humility, responsibility, and care" (O'Riordan 1981, 1). Jim Cheney (1987, 133), for instance, advocates the concept of moral community "in which selves are defined by means of relationships of care and responsibility" and in which the moral challenge is to discover the right relationships by which to live our lives. Arguing for a contextual understanding of what these relationships might look like, he continues, What our responsibilities are is a function of where we happen to find ourselves in that web of relations which constitutes the community. ... To understand what our 39 obligations are, to understand what is required of us, it is necessary to understand the individuals involved (or the nature of the kinds of individuals involved), their relationships to one another, and their place in a complex community or ecosystem (136, 141). In challenging the human-nature dualism of western culture, ecocentrism promotes the recovery of a wholeness that not only connects the individual to the larger web of relations, but that encourages the recovery of the whole self. It encourages an embodied holism which challenges the hierarchical ordering of humans over nonhuman nature, mind over body, matter over spirit (Berman 1984, 1990; Griffin 1989; Heller 1993a). A s embodied, sensate beings, we come to experience our self and the world around us with our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. In 'coming to our senses'—in learning to trust our senses— we come to know what really matters (Berman 1990). It is this "affective, concrete, and sensual experience of life" (Berman 1986, 44), together with an awareness of our interconnectedness within a whole much greater than ourselves, that are the essence of the sacred (Adams 1993; Berman 1990; Devall & Sessions 1985; LaChapelle 1988; Macy 1983, 1994; Spretnak 1986, 1991; Starhawk 1987). In recognizing the inherent worth of all beings, we come to see that the sacred is inherent in the existence of every being (Starhawk 1987, 21). A s Dolores LaChapelle (1988, 127) puts it, the search for relationships that honour the inherent worth of all beings is the search for sacred relationships. The awakening of self to connection and embodied wholeness, then, is a spiritual awakening; and the unfolding of the self—both human and nonhuman—are sacred processes (Spretnak 1991). 40 Creating supportive social structures. While ecocentrists have focused much attention on the cultivation of an ecological consciousness, others warn that we need to pay attention to the context within which this ecological consciousness is to emerge. A s they argue, there is no guarantee that the recovery of the ecological self, a sense of wholeness, or spiritual awakening w i l l put an end to hierarchy and domination (Berman 1984, 1990; Biehl 1991; Bookchin 1989; Merchant 1989). Murray Bookchin (1989, 7-18), for instance, warns against a spirituality that ignores the social roots of today's problems, surrenders the self to "nature's commands," and creates "a new hierarchy of priests and priestesses." Morris Berman (1984, 1990) supports the call for embodied holism but urges us to pay attention to the context within which we seek to recover this wholeness. A s he warns, "it is context that w i l l determine where the content eventually winds up" (1990, 303). He points to the harnessing of deep somatic energies during the rise of fascism in Germany after World War I, and warns that the revival of these same energies within today's "mobile, rootless, high-technology, sexually repressed, mass society" makes the "specter of fascism ... no idle threat" (1984, 294). Berman argues, however, that the real threat facing us today comes from cybernetic holism and systems-theory analysis (Berman 1984, 1986, 1990). Unlike embodied holism which supports "real bodily engagement with the world" (1990, 306), cybernetic holism is just an updated version of the mechanistic worldview. "The world is now no longer seen as Descartes' clock, but as von Neumann's computer; but it is still, in the last analysis, a machine" (305). In the context of existing hierarchical structures, he argues, cybernetic holism enables those in power to intensify and increasingly centralize the management, exploitation, and control of human and nonhuman nature. 41 To be supportive, the social structures of an ecocentric culture must be consistent with, and enable us to act in ways that are consistent with, an ecocentric sensibility. A s Robin Eckersley (1992, 28) puts it, "an ecocentric approach regards the question of our proper place in the rest of nature as logically prior to the question of what are the most appropriate social and political arrangements for human communities." Knowing our proper place in the rest of nature, the appropriate social and political arrangements can help us to live there. Not surprisingly then, much of the ecocentric discourse has concentrated on the cultivation of an ecological consciousness. A s Carolyn Merchant (1989, 264) warns, however, a change in consciousness alone wi l l not bring about the cultural transformation that ecocentrists call for. Such an ecological revolution requires the simultaneous transformation of consciousness, social relations, and socioeconomic structures (Merchant 1987, 1989). In the words of Morris Berman (1990, 298), "the whole thing is a package deal." Coming to an understanding of what it means to be human in the context of life on earth helps to shape our consciousness and guide the formation of new structures. But unless sufficient attention is paid to the creation of supportive structures, the flourishing of the ecological self and our attempts to act in ways that are consistent with an ecological consciousness w i l l be frustrated (Berman 1984, 1990; Biehl 1991; Bookchin 1989; Merchant 1980, 1989, 1992). A s Carolyn Merchant (1992,8) puts it, we need "to move forward both in thought and action." We need to challenge both the values and structures that perpetuate ecological destruction; and simultaneously cultivate both an ecological consciousness and supportive social structures. 42 In examining a broad spectrum of environmental and ecopolitical thought, Robyn Eckersley (1992, 179-86) argues that insufficient attention has been paid to what these social and political structures might look like. In general, the response to the centralized and hierarchical nature of existing institutions has been to promote non-hierarchical and democratic institutions, decentralization, self-reliance, cooperation, and local community control (Eckersley 1992; O'Riordan 1981). Eckersley (1992), however, urges more careful thought to the social and political structures that are being proposed. In criticizing the simplistic reversal from centralized state control to local community control, for instance, she argues that this concept fails to recognize "the many different layers of social and ecological community that cohere beyond the level of the local community" (182). Furthermore, she argues that the assumption that local communities w i l l 'naturally' make better decisions is overly optimistic, especially in the context of prevailing anthropocentric sensibilities. Instead, she argues that a multi-levelled decision-making framework, with its checks and balances, "provides a far greater institutional recognition of the different levels of social and ecological community in the world. ... In particular, it is better able to secure the international, interregional, and intercommunity agreement that is essential to dealing with the ecological crisis and better placed to secure the maintenance of basic standards of income, health, education, and welfare between communities, regions, and nations (183). Ultimately, however, she argues that it is "the cultivation of an ecocentric culture [that] is crucial to achieving a lasting solution to the ecological crisis" (185). Only within an ecocentric culture w i l l there be broad-based support "in favor of the kinds of far-reaching, substantive reforms that w i l l protect biological diversity and life-support systems" (185). 43 The social construction of an ecocentric culture. In calling for the cultivation of an ecocentric culture, there is general agreement that this w i l l involve the transformation of both consciousness and structures (Berman 1984; Bookchin 1980, 1989; Eckersley 1992; Merchant 1980, 1989; Naess 1989; Rees 1992). A s Morris Berman (1984, 10) emphasizes, "Some type of holistic, or participating, consciousness and a corresponding sociopolitical formation have to emerge i f we are to survive as a species." Beyond general agreement, however, proponents of an ecocentric perspective differ as to the relative importance they place on the cultivation of an ecological consciousness and/or the creation of supportive structures; differ as to the precise nature of this consciousness and corresponding structures; and disagree about the actions and strategies that w i l l best bring them into being (Eckersley 1992; Merchant 1992). Carolyn Merchant (1992, 237-40) urges us to see these differences as part of a dynamic and evolving process whereby we socially construct "[n]ew ideas and new strategies for change." It is through this dynamic and evolving process—involving both thought and action—that, in the words of Elizabeth Bi rd (1987, 261), we begin the process of constructing the "socially negotiated moral truths" by which we understand and interact appropriately with nature. In doing so, the participants in this process "challenge the hegemony of the dominant order ... contributing thought and action to the search for a livable world" (Merchant 1992, 240). In contrast to the undemocratic processes of the dominant order, the call for the social negotiation of the moral truths of an ecocentric culture embodies both a participatory and democratic ethos which expands our understanding of who the relevant actors in this process should be, and an expanded epistemology which broadens our 44 understanding of what knowledge is relevant to the process. The following two sections explore these two dimensions of the social construction of an ecocentric culture. A Participatory and Democratic Ethos In contrast to the managerial and centralized approach to environmental problems found within the dominant structures of western culture, the ecocentric perspective embodies a participatory and democratic ethos (Eckersley 1992; O'Riordan 1981). A s Eckersley (1992) points out, this ethos includes, but extends beyond, the issue of democratic participation by humans in human-defined processes. In keeping with the ecocentric notion of "emancipation writ large" (Eckersley 1992, 53), this participatory ethos acknowledges all of nature—human and nonhuman—as active participants in an emancipatory project that is directed towards the flourishing of both the ecological self and earth others. A n ecocentric sensibility carries with it "an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes" so that all life can flourish (Naess 1989, 29). In calling for the transformation of self and society, consciousness and structures, ecocentrism is intrinsically participatory. Without the full engagement of all—both individually and collectively—this cultural transformation cannot take place. In calling for the cultivation of an ecocentric culture, ecocentrists support notions of: (a) direct action, (b) an active citizenry, and (c) democratic processes. Within this ecocentric discourse, (d) issues of participation are embedded within an ecocentric framework committed to the flourishing of both human and nonhuman life on this planet. 45 Direct action. "Direct action," write Devall and Sessions (1985, 204), "means giving active voice to deep ecological intuitions, encouraging more intuitive insights, as well as acquiring more knowledge and understanding of our bioregion, homeland, Nature and ourselves." Within the ecocentric discourse, the call for direct action is threefold: (1) a call for "a deep engagement with l iving" (Devall & Sessions 1985, 205) as a way to cultivate an ecological consciousness (Devall 1988; Devall & Sessions 1985; Naess 1989) and as a way to know "what kinds of care, regard, and responsiveness are appropriate in the particular situations in which we find ourselves" (Cheney 1987, 144); (2) a call for increased grassroots activism (Devall 1988; Spretnak & Capra 1986; Starhawk 1987) as a means "to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree" (Spretnak & Capra 1986, 231); and (3) a call for the creation of lifestyles, livelihoods, technologies, and policies/practices that enhance personal, social, and ecological well-being (Andruss et al. 1990; Bookchin 1980, 1989; Devall 1988; Naess 1989; Roszak 1989; Sale 1985). A s Starhawk (1987, 26) points out, "Our way out w i l l involve both resistance and renewal: saying no to what is, so that we can reshape and recreate the world." In resisting, we challenge both the dominant worldview and its destructive practices. In creating alternatives, we prove that other ways of thinking and acting are possible (Galtung 1980; Roszak 1989; Starhawk 1987). An active citizenry. In contrast to the top-down decision-making processes prevalent within the dominant institutions of western culture, the ecocentric perspective calls for increased participation on the part of ordinary citizens (Eckersley 1992, Naess 1989; O'Riordan 1981, Orr 1992). A s O'Riordan (1981, 256) points out, this participatory strategy 46 is essentially a call for greater sharing of power "and the politicisation of citizen awareness into new democratic forms." Although the call for an active citizenry is not unique to an ecocentric perspective (Eckersley 1992, 8-11), it is consistent with the ecocentric recognition that, as interconnected beings, we are both shaped by and shapers of decisions that are made and acted upon (Cheney 1987; Starhawk 1982, 1987). Recognizing this interconnectedness and the responsibility to develop responsible relationships with earth others, ecocentrism supports the notion that citizens have the right to participate fully and actively in decisions that affect their lives and the well-being of the greater whole to which they are connected. This ecocentric perspective challenges the liberal notion of the autonomous rights-based individual, substituting instead the notion of "relatively autonomous beings who, by our purposive thought and action, help to constitute the very relations that determine who we are" (Eckersley 1992, 53). What is unique about the ecocentric perspective is its challenge to anthropocentric biases within emancipatory thought (Eckersley 1992, 26-31). While anthropocentric notions of emancipation seek freedom for humans, ecocentrism seeks the emancipation and flourishing of both human and nonhuman nature. In acknowledging the moral standing of nonhuman nature, ecocentrism raises the question of how the voices of nonhuman nature can best be represented and heard (Eckersley 1992, 57-9; Livingston 1981; Sandilands 1994; Seed et al 1988). Democratic processes. Creating processes and spaces within which all can be heard, and within which an ecological consciousness can emerge, are central to the democratic processes supported by an ecocentric perspective. Chaia Heller (1993b, 240), for instance, 47 calls for the creation of "an 'erotic democracy' that decentralizes power and allows for direct, passionate participation in the decisions that determine our lives." For Jim Cheney (1987, 132), these decisions are both ethical and contextual, and are best facilitated through the process of consensus decision-making in the context of the moral community to which we belong. Consensual decision making takes relations seriously; it is a method of inclusion, and it is concerned to preserve community. It does not make individuals subservient to the well-being of the whole; nor does it pit individual against individual in a way which can be resolved only by "hierarchical, adversarial means." Janet Biehl (1991) and Murray Bookchin (1989) warn, however, that the desire to preserve community can turn consensus decision-making into a tyrannical process which silences both individuality and dissent. A s Biehl (1991, 140) argues, "Dissent is not merely a form of disagreement. It is a form of healthy and creative opposition that gives rise to new ideas and critical thinking." In a similar vein, Catriona Sandilands (1994) argues that a truly democratic process must remain open to new ideas and critical thoughts. This is particularly true, she argues, because ecocentric attempts to give voice to nonhuman nature are limited by our own understandings of, and experiences with, a 'wildness' that can never be adequately described, understood, or represented. While "experiences of nature might inform a political project" (169) she argues that we must "guard against the possible claim that nature's interests are perfectly served in human discussion" (171). A s she explains, To respect the limits of [this political] discourse is to avoid the authoritarian and totalizing claim that we have got it right; it is to keep different forms of conversation going, to preserve the lack of closure that democracy requires" (171). 48 Despite the generalized support for inclusive and democratic processes, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the question of which processes are most consistent with an ecological sensibility, and which are best suited to "keeping the conversation going." Robyn Eckersley (1992, 30) argues that emancipatory thought in general, and ecocentrism in particular, "is still very much in its infancy" when it comes to proposing appropriate social and political arrangements. In her review of the various ecopolitical philosophies she finds none that are entirely consistent with an ecocentric sensibility. While there is broad support for democratic institutions and processes, she notes the tensions between those who support the notion of decentralized local communities and the abolishment of the centralized state, and those who support the notion of participatory democracy within the context of a democratic state (183). Eckersley finds both of these positions wanting and proposes instead a multi-layered "ecocentric polity" that acknowledges a role for both a democratic, responsive, and less powerful state and for various levels of democratic decision-making bodies (185). Embedding participation in an ecocentric framework. In the last instance, participatory structures and democratic processes are necessary but insufficient features of an ecocentric framework. Questions concerning who participates and how they participate are important but they do not in themselves ensure that participants bring to the table, and are able to fully express, ecocentric values and beliefs. In examining the participatory ethos within the American environmental movement in the 1960s, for instance, Eckersley (1992, 11) found that issues of democratic participation (who gets to decide) and of distributive 49 justice (who benefits, who pays) "remained embedded in an essentially anthropocentric framework." In seeking to redirect "the development and use of technology toward more human liberatory ends" (11), this emancipatory movement failed to challenge the androcentric values and assumptions underlying their own western industrial culture. To serve ecocentric goals, questions of participation and social justice need to be embedded within an ecocentric framework which takes as its goal the flourishing of all life on earth. It is within an ecocentric culture committed to the well-being of human and nonhuman nature that we will be able to bring an ecological consciousness and our ecological self to the table. Herein lies the ecocentric dilemma: in the context of a culture steeped in anthropocentric values, how can democratic and participatory processes produce socially negotiated truths and decisions that reflect an ecocentric sensibility? In calling for the social construction of an ecocentric culture, it could be argued that the agents of cultural transformation are those who contribute—through personal and collective actions—to the cultivation of an ecological sensibility, to the creation of structures and processes that enable the full expression of this ecological sensibility, and to the creation of real practical alternatives to the dominant ways of being in western culture. But John Livingston (1981, 21) raises an interesting question when he asks: "why aren't there more of us?" The ecocentric challenge is to increase the numbers of people who are support the kinds of decisions and actions necessary to ensure a sustainable future for both human and nonhuman nature. Given the large numbers of people who do not share an ecocentric perspective, Eckersley (1992, 186) argues, 50 One of the urgent tasks ... is not only to ensure that there is a regular and accurate flow of information to the general public on ecological issues but also to stimulate a far more extensive political debate on environmental values. This includes calling into question long-standing and deeply held anthropocentric assumptions and prejudices. It also requires the generation of new ways of seeing and new visions of an alternative ecological society that enable people to imagine or visualize what it might be like to live differently, and with greater ecological security. Eckersley's call for more extensive political debate suggests that it is through active participation in the processes by which we come to understand and respond to the environmental crisis that we socially construct the moral truths of an ecocentric culture. In recognizing the ecocentric dilemma, Janis Birkeland (1993b, 31) continues to call for "open, educative and participatory processes" arguing that these processes "are perhaps the only context within which such educative processes can occur." V a l Plumwood (1995, 137) goes even further. In challenging an "elite-dominated polity [which] silences messages that those in power do not wish to hear," she argues that "responsive democratic forms that open communication and spread decision-making processes most equally should offer the best protection for nature." An Expanded Epistemology From an ecocentric perspective, western culture's privileging of scientific and technical knowledge and experts has served to severely restrict our understanding of reality by marginalizing both other ways of knowing and other knowers (Berman 1984, 1990; D'Souza 1989; Griffin 1988c; Roszak 1989; Shiva 1988, 1993). A n epistemology that is 51 consistent with an ecocentric perspective is one that is open to all ways of knowing that w i l l help us to "live humanely, peacefully, and responsibly on the earth" (Orr 1992, xi). To that end, the ecocentric discourse focuses on recovering ways of knowing that have been marginalized by the dominant culture, and on learning "the things we need to know" (House, 1990) in order to live responsibly within our particular place on this earth. In contrast to the scientific search for objective facts, the ecocentric search is guided by ecocentric values and concerns and the desire to recover and discover that which 'really matters' and is 'worth knowing' (Berman 1990; Orr 1992; Schumacher 1977). As David Orr (1992, 155) points out, "not everything learned ... is worth knowing ... [and not all] new knowledge is better (more fit) than old knowledge that we discarded or other kinds of knowledge that we chose not to pursue." Within the ecocentric discourse, the following ways of knowing have, to varying degrees, been acknowledged as contributing to an ecocentric and ecologically informed understanding of reality: (a) indigenous knowledge systems; (b) embodied knowledge; (c) a re-enchanted science in general; and (d) ecology in particular. Those who acknowledge the limitations of ecology caution against an uncritical adoption of 'nature's laws' and argue instead for the recognition of (e) the social construction of ecological knowledge. Indigenous knowledge systems. Many of the hidden truths of an ecocentric culture are contained within the "'disappeared' knowledge systems" of earth-based cultures-traditional knowledge systems which have been dismissed as primitive and unscientific by the western scientific mind (Shiva 1993, 132). Within the ecocentric discourse, the indigenous cultures within which these knowledge systems have evolved are seen as sources 52 of ecological wisdom (Berry 1988; Bookchin 1989; Booth & Jacobs 1993; Devall & Sessions 1985; D'Souza 1989; Hay 1989; LaChapelle 1988; Mander 1991; Merchant 1989; Shiva 1988, 1993). Underlying the ecological wisdom of earth-based cultures are belief systems that see the earth as sacred and alive and humans as active participants in the web of life; knowledge systems based on intimate knowledge of the particular places within which they dwell; and cultural practices that encourage and support responsible relationships to nonhuman nature. Evolving and enduring over long periods of time, and within particular ecological and social contexts, these cultural beliefs, knowledge systems and practices are complex, detailed, and sophisticated. In articulating the ecological wisdoms of Native American cultures, however, Booth & Jacobs (1993) caution against their misappropriation. A s they remind us, ecological wisdom is context-dependent and attempts to "borrow culture" and uncritically apply it to our own western culture are inappropriate, disrespectful, and bound to fail. Furthermore, they point out, "there is a delicate line between respectful learning and intellectual plundering" (Booth & Jacobs 1993, 525). A n understanding of earth-based cultures can act "as a contrast to our own destructive relationships with the natural world, and as a reminder that positive relationships can and do exist" (525). But it is the pursuit of respectful relationships with people of these cultures, and an active ecocentric discourse among ourselves, that are key to the cultivation of an ecological wisdom appropriate to our own western culture. Embodied knowledge. In challenging the mind-body dualism of western thought, the ecocentric discourse a f f i r m s , and encourages the recovery of, ways of knowing that have 53 been denied and trivialized by the rational mind. A s Bowers (1991, 103) points out, "The identification of knowledge with the mental process occurring in the head of the individual discounted the importance of the body as a source of knowledge." Ecocentrists argue that, as whole, sensate beings, we are capable of knowing with our whole selves—with our minds and our bodies, with our logic and our emotions, with our physical and our spiritual self (Berman 1984, 1990; Griffin 1989; Griffin 1988b; Livingston 1981; Naess 1989; Plumwood 1993; Schumacher 1977; Spretnak 1991; Starhawk 1987). This embodied sensibility is expressed in Judith Plant's (1990b, 82) use of the phrase "think feelingly." In 'coming to our senses'—in healing the mind-body split—we recover ways of knowing that arise out of "real bodily engagement with the world" (Berman 1990, 306) and come to know "the ultimate meaning of human life on this planet" (318). Schumacher (1977) reminds us that these lived experiences are both outer and inner, visible and invisible, material and spiritual. In experiencing the world as whole, sensate beings with minds, bodies, and spirits, and in locating moral authority within our whole being, we come to know what Wil l i s Harman (1988, 122) calls 'the secret': "Experienced reality does not conform to the 'reality' they taught us in science class; the 'scientific worldview' is not an adequate guide for living life." A re-enchanted science. The call for embodied knowledge is not an outright dismissal of rationality and science, but it challenges narrow notions of rationality and acknowledges that there other valid ways of knowing. A s Eckersley (1992, 51) points out, ecocentrist theorists are not against science or technology per se; rather they are against scientism (i.e., the conviction that empiric-analytic science is the only valid 54 way of knowing) and technocentrism (i.e., anthropocentric technological optimism). The distinction is crucial. What is being contested is not science itself but a science that is based on mechanistic and anthropocentric assumptions about reality; that claims to produce objective, value-free, and absolute truths about reality; that denies that there are other ways of knowing the world; and that is directed towards controlling and managing nature (Berman 1984, 1990; Capra 1982; Griffin 1988c; Merchant 1980; Mumford 1970; Roszak 1989; Schumacher 1977). A s David Griffin (1988a, 8) points out, this science "is not a value-free enterprise." The scientific facts or truths produced by this science are "selected according to various interests and prejudices," both within and outside the scientific community, and leave many other truths undiscovered (9). A s Schumacher (1977, 4) puts it, the "maps of understanding" produced by this narrow science "leave all the questions that really matter unanswered; more than that, they deny the validity of the questions" (Schumacher 1977, 4). In reducing what can be known, and how it can be known, this science has disenchanted both nature and itself (Berman 1984; Griffin 1988a). In challenging this anthropocentric and mechanistic science, ecocentrists support the notion of a re-enchanted science—a science that, in David Bohm's (1988, 60) words, "[does] not separate matter and consciousness and [does] not separate facts, meaning, and value." A central feature of this reenchanted science is the notion of internal relatedness (Birch 1988; Bohm 1988; Griffin 1988a). A s Eckersley (1992, 51-2) points out, it is within the developments of science itself—particularly within physics and biology—that we find support for the "ecological model of internal relatedness" which is central to an ecocentric 55 perspective. But it is to the science of ecology in particular that many ecocentrists turn for guidance and inspiration. Ecology as a subversive science. A s Theodore Roszak (1989, 400) points out, "Ecology has been called the 'subversive science'—and with good reason." With its focus on understanding and maintaining the integrity of a world comprised of an "intrinsically dynamic, interconnected web of relations" (Eckersley 1992, 49), ecology has inspired an ecological sensibility that fundamentally challenges the mechanistic understanding of reality. The world, according to ecology, is one that is internally related, complex, dynamic, constantly unfolding and evolving, uncertain, full of surprises, contextual, and (some would argue), mysterious. It is a world that can never be totally understood. A s John Livingston (1981, 65-6) puts it, "The more [ecology] learns the more it discovers that it does not know. In fact, 'pure' ... ecologists claim to know only one thing for certain: that they wi l l never know one thing for certain." Despite this level of uncertainty, ecocentrists have turned to the science of ecology for inspiration, guidance, support, and information. Kirkpatrick Sale (1985, 50), for instance, bases his bioregional vision on the 'laws of nature' which include: natural regions, community, stability, cooperation, diversity, symbiosis, and evolution. Don Marietta, Jr. (1982, 162) argues for the development of an ecological ethic that is "grounded in a world view which is informed by ecological knowledge and holistic ecological concepts." Such an ecological ethic takes as its moral obligation the maintenance of the ecological integrity of both ecosystems and the biosphere. The science of ecology both informs this ethic and helps us to carry out our moral obligations. 56 The social construction of ecological 'truths.' Others warn that there are limits to ecology's usefulness as a guide to the development of an ecological ethic and ecologically responsible actions (Bird 1987; Evernden 1985; Merchant 1987; Warren & Cheney 1991; Worster 1985, 1993). For one thing, ecology is an uncertain science in the sense that the truths of a world that is complex, interconnected, and dynamic can never be known absolutely. Furthermore, like all sciences, the truths of ecology are the product of social negotiations that are shaped by events in the scientific community and the cultural context within which these negotiations take place (Bird 1987; Merchant 1980, 1987; Worster 1985, 1993). A s an example, Karen Warren and Jim Cheney (1991, 182) point to current debates within the scientific community that "reveal that there currently is no single model of ecosystems" and therefore no single model around which an ecologically-informed perspective can be constructed. Donald Worster (1985) shows how different ecological models can be used to rationalize different attitudes and actions towards nature. In tracing the history of ecology from the 18th to 20th century, he reveals the tensions between organic and mechanistic ecological models of nature; the first searching for ways to live in communion with nature, the other seeking to dominate it. A s an example, he shows how 20th century bioeconomics or New Ecology is filled with mechanistic and economistic assumptions that reduce nature to a "flow of good and services—or of energy—a kind of automated, robotized, pacified nature" and that rationalize the efficient management of this 'nature' (313). This N e w Ecology, he argues, cannot provide the philosophical basis for an ecocentric perspective. 57 Although ecology can help us to understand and protect ecosystems, there is danger in the uncritical adoption of the 'laws of ecology' as inspiration and guidance for an ecocentric ethic (Bird 1987; Eckersley 1992; Evernden 1985; Livingston 1981; Naess 1989; Worster 1985, 1993). A s Elizabeth Bird (1987, 261) cautions: "To cite the 'laws of ecology' as a basis for understanding environmental problems is to rely on a particular set of socially constructed experiences and interpretations that have their own political and moral grounds and implications." A s Robyn Eckersley (1992, 59) argues, "appealing to the authority of nature (as known by ecology) is no substitute for ethical argument. Ecological science cannot perform the task of normative justification ... because it does not tell us why we ought to orient ourselves toward the world in a particular way." Ecology can suggest the way, but it cannot release us from our moral obligation to make ethical choices that w i l l ensure the flourishing of human and nonhuman life on this planet. 2.3 Implications for an Ethics-Based Planning A t the beginning of this chapter, I asked how planning can best respond to growing environmental problems so as to contribute to long-term sustainability. In response to the urgent calls for action emerging from within the sustainability discourse, an ethics-based planning that is consistent with an ecocentric perspective wi l l : (a) challenge the dominant structures and values of western industrial culture; (b) contribute to the cultivation of an ecocentric culture committed to the well-being of human and nonhuman nature; (c) adopt a participatory and emancipatory stance; and (d) be open to all knowledge and ways of 58 knowing that can help us to better understand and appropriately respond to the environmental crisis before us. In expanding on Friedmann's (1987) definition of planning as the translation of knowledge into action, this ethics-based planning encourages the active engagement of all in translating all relevant ways of knowing and ecocentric sensibilities into actions that sustain the well-being of human and nonhuman life on this planet. I return to this ecocentric planning framework in the final chapter. In the next chapter, I reflect on the urgent call for action emerging from within the sustainability discourse, and on the ecocentric call for cultural transformation, and raise feminist concerns about the marginalization of women's insights and experiences from the processes by which we come to understand and respond to the environmental crisis. Given the patriarchal nature of western culture, these concerns are not unfounded. 59 C H A P T E R 3 RAISING FEMINIST CONCERNS: T H E C A L L F O R A FEMINIST R E - F R A M I N G OF T H E E N V I R O N M E N T A L CRISIS 3.1 Raising Feminist Concerns In the previous chapter, I examined the ecocentric discourse and briefly outlined an ethics-based planning framework consistent with an ecocentric sensibility. I begin this chapter by asking whether this ethics-based planning will challenge the patriarchal nature of western culture, and mainstream planning in particular. As feminist planners point out, the patriarchal values and assumptions embedded in mainstream planning theories and practices serve to perpetuate gender inequities and to marginalize women and the feminine from the processes by which knowledge is translated into action (Beavis 1991; Birkeland 1991, 1993a, 1993b; MacGregor 1995; Milroy 1991; Sandercock & Forsyth 1992). In reflecting on the call for action emerging from within the sustainability discourse, and on the ecocentric call for cultural transformation, feminists and ecofeminists raise concerns about the marginalization of women's insights and experiences from male-dominated theories and practices that shape how we come to understand and respond to the ecological crisis 60 (Birkeland 1993a; Braidotti et al 1994; Doubiago 1989; D'Souza 1989, 1994; Forsey 1993; Harcourt 1994a; Hausler 1994; Larsen 1991; Mellor 1992; Salleh 1984, 1992; Seager 1993; Simmons 1992; Slicer 1994; Vance 1993; Wacker 1994; W E D O 1992). A s Helen Forsey (1993,48-9) puts it, I keep picking up books and articles by male environmentalists, hoping to find in them something that w i l l speak to me, that w i l l reflect and address my concerns for the planet and for humanity. Usually I search in vain amid their scholarly references and resounding platitudes for the familiar names of my wise and radical sisters who are doing so much of the urgently-needed creative thinking on critical environmental issues today. Ignorance or prejudice allows these men to ignore women's ideas, leadership and massive participation on the front lines of grassroots environmental organizing the world over ... For too many of these male authors, 51 percent of the world's human population does not even merit a line in their index. The point is not just that these women's ideas, actions, and concerns have been ignored by male theorists and activists and should now be included, but that these male-dominated discourses play a role in "blocking out opportunities and perspectives that w i l l be indispensable for reaching the solutions they are anxious to find" (Simmons 1992, 2). In marginalizing the critical perspectives that women bring to their activism, in hindering women's capacity to respond fully to the urgent call for action, and in reproducing patriarchy within the emerging theories and practices of the sustainability and ecocentric discourses, patriarchy is a serious barrier to sustainability. What is needed is a feminist reframing of the environmental crisis—a feminist framework capable of challenging both ecological destruction and the oppression of women (Braidotti et al, 1994; Harcourt 1994b; Seager 1993; Warren 1987, 1990). 61 The Call for a Transformative Feminism A s Karen Warren (1987, 4-5) points out, many feminists "agree that there are important connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature" but not all feminist frameworks provide an adequate theoretical grounding for a feminist reframing of the environmental crisis. In examining four leading feminist frameworks-liberal, Marxist, radical, socialist—she finds them "inadequate, incomplete, or problematic" (3). To different degrees, these feminist frameworks fail to adequately challenge belief systems and structures which justify and enable the domination of women and nonhuman nature. For Warren, liberal and Marxist feminists have serious shortcomings in that they do not adequately challenge the patriarchal, anthropocentric and mechanistic assumptions of western culture (8-13). Shaped by the liberal notion of the autonomous and rational individual, liberal feminism seeks for women—as fully autonomous and rational individuals-equal rights and opportunities within the context of western industrial society. To the extent that it also seeks rights for nonhuman nature, it does so within the context of western social structures and without challenging hierarchical dualisms and anthropocentric and mechanistic assumptions. Marxist feminism rejects the liberal notion of equal opportunity and locates women's oppression in the context of a class society dominated by a small male elite. While it challenges the domination of human by human on the basis of class, its economistic and class orientation fail to adequately challenge the gender-blindness of traditional Marxism and a western industrial model which reduces nonhuman nature to resources for human use. 62 Radical feminism and socialist feminism offer more promise but also raise some concerns (Warren 1987, 13-7). For radical feminism, women's oppression is located in the ways in which patriarchy defines women in terms of their biology (particularly their reproductive capacity) and seeks to control both women's bodies and their sexuality. A s embodied beings, women's personal and bodily experiences are politically significant. In challenging patriarchy, radical feminism challenges the disembodied mind-body and material-spiritual splits of western conceptual frameworks, validates embodied (eg. intuitive, emotional, spiritual) ways of knowing, and seeks to celebrate and value the embodied female self which has been devalued by patriarchy. In celebrating this embodied female self, however, many radical feminists have uncritically accepted patriarchal constructs of the female self. Furthermore, radical feminism pays little attention to patriarchal social structures and the interconnections between the domination of women, nature and other forms of oppression (eg. race, class). Socialist feminism integrates the insights of radical feminism with an emphasis on the role that social institutions play in the oppression of women. A s biological beings, both men and women are socially constructed into gendered beings whose nature is shaped by the particular contexts within which they find themselves. Women's experiences and perspectives are contextual and shaped by their particular social locations within a set of interlocking oppressions (eg. sex, race, class). In failing to explicitly address and challenge the systematic domination of nonhuman nature, however, socialist feminism is incomplete. 63 In addressing the inadequacies of these four feminist frameworks, Warren calls for "an integrative and transformative feminism, one that... makes a responsible ecological perspective central to feminist theory and practice" (1987, 17). According to Warren (1987, 1990, 1991, 1994b), this transformative feminism: (a) acknowledges the interconnectedness of all forms of oppression (e.g. sexism, racism, classism, naturism) and "is a movement to end al l forms of oppression" (1987, 18); (b) links the liberation of women to the elimination of domination in all its forms; (c) makes visible and challenges both a logic of domination which rationalizes oppression and "uses of power which function to maintain, perpetuate, and justify ... oppressive relationships" (1994b, 188); (d) takes seriously-in both theory and practice—the diversity of women's perspectives and experiences, and resists the search for one totalizing feminist theory or a 'universal' woman's voice; (e) reconstructs nonhierarchical notions of what it means to be human "as both co-members of an ecological community and yet different from other members of it" (1987, 19); and makes a central place for values such as care and friendship "that presuppose that our relationships to others are central to our understanding of who we are" (1990, 143). In making links between the domination of human and nonhuman nature, and in challenging both conceptual frameworks and social structures, this transformative feminism heals what Joan Griscom (1981, 4-5) calls the "severe split between feminists who are primarily concerned with non-human nature and those who are primarily concerned with human history (race, class, sex)." This split between what she calls 'nature' and 'social' feminists is a false one, she argues, in that human history (the social) unfolds in the context 64 of, and is part of, the unfolding of nature, just as "our relation to nature is part of our history" (5). We are embodied and social beings, shaped by and shaping the ecological and social contexts within which we live. Within a culture shaped by value-hierarchical thinking and interrelated structures of domination, the domination of human and nonhuman nature "are inextricably fused" in both theory and practice (6). In coming to an understanding of how these relations of domination are produced and reproduced, Griscom (6-8) argues that both 'nature' and 'social' feminists have special insights to offer. Social feminists can help us to understand the social structures that reproduce these relations of domination. Nature feminists can help us to challenge the conceptual splits that separate human from nonhuman nature, mind from body, and physical from spiritual; and help us to reclaim our embodied and ecological selves. In drawing from both 'nature' and 'social' feminists, a transformative feminism heals not only the split in feminist thought, but the false split between nature and culture. The Promise of Ecofeminism Ecofeminism makes such big promises! The convergence of ecology and feminism into a new social theory and political movement challenges gender relations, social institutions, economic systems, sciences, and views of our place as humans in the biosphere (Lahar 1991, 28). Through political activism and theoretical developments, ecofeminism introduces feminist insights into our understanding of the environmental crisis. As such, it promises to provide the best framework for challenging both ecological destruction and the oppression of 65 women. Drawing from ecology and feminism, ecofeminists attempt to make visible the links between the domination of women and the domination of nonhuman nature, and to challenge patriarchal constructs and practices which sanction and enable the domination of human and nonhuman nature (King 1989, 1990; Lahar 1991; Plant 1989; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994c). There is, however, no unified ecofeminist voice (Diamond & Orenstein 1990; Hessing 1992; Lahar 1991, Merchant 1990, 1992, 1996; Plant 1989; Plumwood 1993; Warren 1994a). A s Stephanie Lahar (1991, 28) comments, The newness of the movement, the breadth of issues it encompasses, and the diversity of people thinking and writing about ecofeminism have resulted in considerable confusion about what ecofeminism actually is, who ecofeminists are, and what they have to say ... In acknowledging the debates and differences within this emerging movement, Karen Warren (1987, 4-5) articulates what she considers to be "a minimal condition account of eco-feminism" : (i) there are important connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature; (ii) understanding the nature of these connections is necessary to any adequate understanding of the oppression of women and the oppression of nature; (iii) feminist theory and practice must include an ecological perspective; and (iv) solutions to ecological problems must include a feminist perspective. A n understanding of the connections between the domination of women and nonhuman nature is essential i f the roots of the present ecological crisis are to be adequately addressed (Birkeland 1993a; Diamond & Orenstein 1990; Forsey 1993; Gaard 1993c; K i n g 1989, 1990; Merchant 1980, 1981, 1989, 1996; Plant 1989; Simmons 1992; Warren 1987, 1990). Concerned about the patriarchal roots of the ecological crisis, ecofeminists raise concerns about the reproduction of patriarchy within the emerging theories and practices of the 66 ecocentric discourse (Birkeland 1993a; Forsey 1993; Plumwood 1992, 1993; Salleh 1984, 1992). A s they warn, unless the ecocentric discourse adequately challenges patriarchy in all its forms, it w i l l fail to transform western culture into an ecocentric one in which all of l i f e -human and nonhuman, both male and female-can flourish. In the following section, I explore an ecofeminist re-framing of the 'crisis of culture.' 3.2 Ecofeminism and the 'Crisis of Culture' Challenging the Patriarchal Nature of Western Culture In exposing the patriarchal nature of western culture, ecofeminists (a) challenge patriarchal conceptual frameworks, (b) explore the patriarchal roots of today's ecological crisis, and (c) uncover the historical association between women and nature. Patriarchal conceptual frameworks: A dominator consciousness. The false split between nature and culture has been challenged by ecocentrists in general, but it has been ecofeminists who have challenged the patriarchal nature of this culture-'nature1 dualism. Ecocentrism challenges anthropocentric and mechanistic values which legitimate the exploitation and domination of nonhuman nature in the name of, and for the good of, 'humanity' (Fox 1989). Ecofeminists deepen this critique by exposing androcentric values underlying culturally dominant notions of what it means to be fully human. While anthropocentrism places humans and human culture at the centre of moral consideration and 67 rationalizes the exploitation and domination of all that is 'not human,' ecofeminists argue that patriarchal conceptual frameworks privilege particular humans and ways of being in the world, and judges 'others' to be 'less human' and therefore less worthy of moral consideration. A s feminists and ecofeminists point out, a central feature of patriarchal conceptual frameworks is the privileging of men and a culturally defined masculinity and the marginalization and devaluation of women and a culturally defined femininity (Bordo 1986; D'Souza 1989; Gray 1982; Griffin 1978; Harding 1986, 1991; Holmstrom 1986; Merchant 1980, 1989; Pearsall 1986; Plumwood 1993; Warren 1987, 1990; Whitbeck 1986; Wilshire 1989). To be fully human in the context of western culture is to be male and masculine. The hierarchical ordering of human over nonhuman nature, male over female, are symptomatic of the dualisms embedded in western thought (D'Souza 1989; Gray 1982; Plumwood 1993; Warren 1987, 1990; Wilshire 1989). The effect of hierarchical dualisms is to hyperseparate "aspects of reality that in fact are inseparable or complementary" (Warren 1987, 6-7) and to rank diversity and difference so as to privilege and normalize one side of a duality while negating and inferiorizing the 'other.' The "logic of domination" (Warren 1987, 6) embedded in these hierarchical dualisms serves to rationalize the domination of the inferior other (Plumwood 1993; Warren 1987, 1990). As V a l Plumwood (1993, 47) points out, it is not the existence of difference between two things that makes a dualism, but "rather the way the distinctions have been treated." Dualisms hyperseparate difference, deny commonalities and dependencies, and naturalize the domination of one over the other. In pointing to the dominator consciousness characterizing western culture, she offers the 68 following as a list of key dualisms within western thought: culture/nature; reason/nature; male/female; mind/body; master/slave; reason/matter; rationality/animality; reason/emotion; mind, spirit/nature; freedom/necessity; universal/particularity; human/nature (non-human); civilised/primitive; production/reproduction; public/private; subject/object; self/other (43). A s she points out, these dualisms reflect the major forms of oppression in western culture. In particular the dualisms of male/female, mental/manual (mind/body), civilised/primitive, human/nature correspond directly to and naturalise gender, class, race and nature oppressions respectively (43). They provide the basis for a worldview that is (among other things) anthropocentric, mechanistic, androcentric, class-centred, Eurocentric and ethnocentric (D'Souza 1989; Mies 1986; Plumwood 1993; Shiva 1988; Warren 1987, 1990). Concepts of gender are deeply embedded within these hierarchical dualisms (D'Souza 1989; Plumwood 1993; Wilshire 1989). Thus to read down the first side of the list of dualisms is to read a list of qualities traditionally appropriated to men and to the human while the second side presents qualities traditionally excluded from male ideals and associated with women, the sex defined by exclusion (Plumwood 1993, 44). The association of human identity with male, culture, mind, rationality, autonomy, the universal, production, public, and active subject; and the association of the inferior 'other' with female, nature, body, emotion, constraint, the particular, reproduction, private, and passive object underlie patriarchal constructs of gender within western culture. Within this complex set of hierarchical dualisms, the degree of'humanness' bestowed on any particular individual is shaped by where he or she finds herself in the context of this web of relations 69 (Plumwood 1993; Warren 1987, 1990). In the end, this patriarchal construct of what it means to be 'human' is one that only the privileged few-mainly white, western, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, middle class-can ever hope to live up to (Lorde 1984; Mies 1986; Seager 1993). A s a model for what it means to be human, it represents a '"hegemonic masculinity' which, while it does not correspond to the actual personality of the majority of men, sustains patriarchal authority and legitimizes a patriarchal social and political order" (Seager 1993, 8). This cultural description and prescription of what it means to be human exposes "value judgments that have unnecessarily brought about human alienation from self, other, and planet and that have disastrously limited what we think is desirable and worth knowing" (Wilshire 1989, 95). It severely limits how we understand and relate to ourselves and others as differentiated human beings, male and female, and how we understand and relate to other beings in the complex web of nature. A n d it legitimates the exploitation and domination of both human and nonhuman nature in the name of, and for the good of, a 'humanity' that, in reality, represents the interests of only the dominant few. The patriarchal roots of the ecological crisis. To the extent that the ecocentric discourse pays attention to historical and social forces, it exposes the ways in which dominant groups have disproportionately influenced the social negotiations that have produced inappropriate interactions with nonhuman nature. Ecofeminists expose the patriarchal nature of these historical forces. One of the central debates within ecofeminism, however, is between those who attribute all forms of domination to patriarchy and those who offer a more complex socio-historical analysis (Lahar 1991). Some ecofeminists argue that 70 there was a time when women and nature were not dominated (Eisler 1987, 1990; Spretnak 1990). Riane Eisler (1990, 23), for instance, claims that the Neolithic agrarian societies of Europe "were not warlike. They were not societies where women were subordinate to men. A n d they did not see our Earth as an object for exploitation and domination." These ecofeminists locate the roots of domination in the arrival of patriarchal, sky-god worshipping, warlike societies beginning "around 4500 B C with the Indo-European invasions of nomadic tribes from the Eurasian steppes" (Spretnak 1990, 11). Ecofeminist critic Janet Biehl (1991, 46) argues that this "reduction of the origin of hierarchy solely to 'invasions' [is] simplistic in the extreme." Attributing the rise of hierarchy to a single external factor ignores the complex internal as well as external factors that produce the "complex transitions in social structures and values" which give rise to systems of domination. Criticizing the tendency of some ecofeminists to reduce all hierarchy to patriarchy, Susan Prentice (1988, 9) argues that such reductionism "trivializes several centuries of history, economics and politics by simply glancing over the formidable obstacles of social structures." In doing so, they not only ignore the intricate ways in which systems of domination (eg. capitalism, statism, racism, sexism) are interwoven and elaborated in all spheres of social life, but impede the development of an effective strategy for change. Other ecofeminists offer more complex analyses of the patriarchal nature of socio-historical forces that gave rise to today's environmental crisis (Griffin 1978; Ruether 1975; Mies 1986; Merchant 1980, 1987, 1989; Shiva 1988). The power of these complex analyses, argues Stephanie Lahar (1991, 34) is that, in making the convergence of cultural, scientific, 71 and economic factors historically accessible, we are better able to understand how to deconstruct them. A s she explains, I believe that the search for some singular and original seed of domination in the distant past does not really help us ... We should proceed, instead, to further develop models of the interlocking dynamics of oppression, so that when we are working for liberation in one area we are able to see links and contribute to opening up other areas as well . Although patriarchal relations can be traced back thousands of years (Berman 1989; Ruether 1975; Whitbeck 1986; Wilshire 1989), the ecological revolution that took place within 15th to 17th century Europe played an important role in shaping today's patriarchal constructs and structures (Ecologist 1993; Harding 1986, 1991; Mies 1986; Merchant 1980, 1987, 1989; Shiva 1988). In the context of the industrial and scientific revolutions, the emergence of capitalism, and the ecological revolution from organicism to mechanism, gender relations were transformed. The use of science to naturalize and rationalize women's subordinate position, the increasing domestication of women, and the marginalization and devaluation of women's productive activities all served to reduce women's sexual, intellectual, and economic independence. Accompanying these developments was the "formation of a world view and a science that, by reconceptualizing reality as a machine rather than a living organism, sanctioned the domination of both nature and women" (Merchant 1980, xvii) . Describing the transformation in gender relations that took place during this period as "the enclosure of women," the Ecologist (1993, 38) argues that it "has given rise to an almost universal male dominated and hierarchical system which is more intense, extreme and absolute than any form of patriarchy before." 72 In tracing the development and global expansion of this emerging European socio-economic model, Maria Mies (1986, 76) shows how the progress of elite European men was built on "the subordination and exploitation of their own women, on the exploitation and ki l l ing of Nature, on the exploitation and subordination of other peoples and their lands." Vandana Shiva (1988) characterizes this western development model as 'maldevelopment' and argues that it has led to ecological destruction, gross social inequities, the destruction of women's productivity, and the marginalization of indigenous cultures. The Ecologist (1993, 21-58) calls this development model a form of'enclosure' in which lands and peoples have been increasingly placed under the control of a male-dominated European elite, and women under the control of men. Dispossessed, devalued, and exploited, these peoples have been left to bear a disproportionate share of the social, economic, and ecological costs of 'progress.' The patriarchal nature of this western development model has meant that it is women—particularly less privileged women in both the North and South—who have been the most dispossessed of all. Although women make up at least half the world's population, patriarchal economic, political, social, and cultural practices have served to reduce women to what the United Nations calls "the non-participating majority" ( U N D P 1993, 25). With women relegated to the margins, it is little wonder that ecofeminists question whether women—particularly less privileged women—have been as implicated as men in the social construction of today's environmental crisis (Eckersley 1992; Heller 1993a; Hutcheson 1995; Plumwood 1993). 73 In challenging both ecological destruction and the marginalization of women, most ecofeminists argue that the domination of women and nonhuman nature is part of a complex web of oppressions, and link the liberation of women and nonhuman nature to the elimination of domination in all its forms (Gaard 1993b; Gaard & Gruen 1993; Hutcheson 1995; K i n g 1989, 1990; Lahar 1993; Plumwood 1993; Ruether 1989; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994c). In doing so, they challenge those ecofeminists who reduce all forms of oppression to patriarchy. A s feminists and ecofeminists point out, this reductionist position posits a false universal subject, 'woman,' and erases the complexities, tensions, and contradictions in women's lives. It denies the differences and divisions among women, and masks the ways in which women themselves participate in a complex web of oppressive relations—sometimes as the oppressed, sometimes as the oppressor of both human and nonhuman nature (hooks 1984, 1988; Hutcheson 1995; Plumwood 1993; Seager 1993; Segal 1987). Deborah Sheer (1994, 32) argues that ecofeminists need to resist the temptation to reduce the complex web of multiple oppressions to a single root cause. A s she explains, ... even though we may be able to conceptualize to some significant degree one type of oppression without the other ... in this culture at this stage in our social evolution these forms of oppression are so inextricably connected that we cannot adequately understand one without understanding the role of the others, nor eliminate one and not the others. She maintains that the linking of the domination of nonhuman nature with the multiple ways in which humans oppress other humans "constitutes ecofeminism's greatest insight. A n d finding theories and political strategies that effectively identify and eradicate these tangled oppressions is perhaps our greatest promise, and challenge" (39). A t the same time, V a l Plumwood (1994, 78-9) warns against the merger of all social movements into one, and 74 proposes instead the notion of "a network or web" that acknowledges the interconnections between forms of oppression, the specificity of particular forms of oppression (such as that of women), and the tensions and differences between oppressions and forms of struggle. A s she argues, "even i f struggles have a common origin point, a common enemy or conceptual structure, it does not follow that they then become the same struggle" (78). The association of woman and nature. Feminists have long critiqued both the historical devaluation of women and the feminine, and the ways in which patriarchal views of woman's nature have been used to justify inequitable gender relations and the marginalization and exclusion of women from public life (Holmstrom 1986; James 1992; Pateman 1983; Pearsall 1986; Whitbeck 1986). Ecofeminists extend this feminist critique by analysing the symbolic association of woman with nature, and the devaluation and domination of both (Gray 1982; Griffin 1978; K ing 1989, 1990; Merchant 1980, 1989; Mies 1986; Roach 1991; Shiva 1988; Wilshire 1989). "The basic argument is that in patriarchal culture, when women are seen as closer to nature than men, women are inevitably seen as less fully human than men" (Roach 1991, 51). Carolyn Merchant (1980, 1989) traces the historical association of woman and nature, the changing metaphors of female nature, and the progressive devaluation of both women and nature in the course of ecological revolutions that occurred within European and North American society from the sixteenth century onwards. During sixteenth century Europe, for instance, two images of female nature existed—that of the nurturing mother, and that of the wi ld and uncontrollable female. While the image of the earth as nurturing mother had served to constrain human activities, nature as disorder called forth new 75 images of mastery and domination and sanctioned the exploitation of both women and nature (Merchant 1980). A s V a l Plumwood (1992, 9) points out, this historical association and devaluation of women and nature "is by no means a thing of the past; it continues to drive the denigration of nature and of women's activity and indeed of the whole sphere of reproduction." While ecofeminists agree that women have been historically perceived to be closer to nature than men, and that the joint domination of women and nature must end, they disagree as to whether "the woman/nature connection is potentially liberating - or simply an excuse for the continued oppression of women" (King 1983, 12). Sherry Ortner's (1974) question "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?" has become the focus of much debate within ecofeminist theory. Catherine Roach (1991, 52) identifies three different ecofeminist responses to this question: First, we can agree that women are closer to nature but disagree that this association must be disempowering. We can instead promote this association as enriching, liberating, and as according both women and nature high value. ... Second, we can stress that women are fully cultural beings and disagree that women are in any way closer to nature than men, rejecting this latter claim as false and as sexist biological reductionism. ... The third course of action ... rejects the nature-culture dichotomy of these first two options and seeks to minimize the strictness and antagonism of the male-female dichotomy, thereby opening the way for multiple possibilities of gender identity. The first response has been the focus of much debate. Robyn Eckersley (1992, 66) outlines two arguments that ecofeminists offer in claiming a closer connection between woman and nature. The body-based argument claims that women are closer to nature "by virtue of what 76 is unique about women's bodies ... [and] is grounded in women's reproductive and associated nurturing capabilities." The oppression-based argument claims that "the separate social reality of women that has resulted from the division of labour in patriarchal societies ... [is] the basis of an alternative, nurturing, and more caring morality." Both positions see "the closer connection between women and nature ... as a source of special insight and empowerment for women." In response to a patriarchal culture which associates women with nonhuman nature and devalues both, these two positions seek to challenge this devaluation and to affirm this connection. V a l Plumwood (1993, 8) argues that the uncritical affirmation of the woman-nature connection has led to "a romantic conception of both women and nature, the idea that women have special powers and capacities of nurturance, empathy and 'closeness to nature', which are unsharable by men." These special powers and 'closeness to nature' are often offered as reasons why women have a significant role to play in the resolution of the environmental crisis (Eckersley 1992, 66). But as Anne Archambault (1993, 21) explains, this position places the burden of saving the planet squarely on the backs of women. M e n cannot be expected to participate in this restoration project because they presumably lack the sensitivity to nature that women have. Women wi l l therefore simply end up in charge of cleaning up the global mess - fulfilling their traditional role as nurturing mothers. Associating this romantic position with ecofeminism as a whole, many feminists have declared ecofeminism to be essentialist, reactionary, and conservative in that it tends to uncritically accept and even celebrate existing patriarchal concepts of both women and nature 77 (Agarwal 1992; Biehl 1991; Prentice 1988; Seager 1993; Segal 1987). A reading of the ecofeminist literature, however, reveals that many ecofeminists share this concern (Buege 1994; Cheney 1987; Davion 1994; Hutcheson 1995; Lahar 1991; Plumwood 1992, 1993; Roach 1991; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994b, 1994c). V a l Plumwood (1993, 9), for instance, argues that the "angel in the ecosystem" myth promoted by these romantic claims is only plausible ... i f one practices a denial of the reality of women's lives, and not least a denial of the divisions between women themselves, both within the women's movement and in the wider society. Not all women are empathic, nurturant and co-operative. She calls this first position a feminism of'uncritical reversal' in that it simply reverses the masculine/feminine, culture/nature dualisms, affirming the superiority of the feminine over the masculine. In challenging these dualistic constructions, she calls for a "critical ecological feminism in which women consciously position themselves with nature" (21) while challenging patriarchal constructs that hyperseparate and devalue both woman and nature. Roach (1991) offers Sherry Ortner as an example of the second position. Ortner (1974, 87) denies that woman is "any closer to (or further from) nature than man - both have consciousness, both are mortal. But there are certainly reasons why she appears that way." Pointing to the social institutions and cultural assumptions that have socially constructed women as closer to nature, she comments, "Ultimately, both men and women can and must be equally involved in projects of creativity and transcendence. Only then w i l l women be seen as aligned with culture, in culture's ongoing dialectic with nature." Stephanie Lahar (1991, 54) argues that this position reinforces, rather than challenges, the nature-culture 78 dualism by insisting that "women are just as 'cultural' and distanced from nature as men." A s Ynestra K i n g points out, this social constructivist position sees "the severance of the woman-nature connection as a condition of women's liberation" (King 1989, 22-23). Women are asked to deny their connection with nature and to join men in the social construction of a culture which continues to see itself as separate from nature. V a l Plumwood (1992, 1993) calls this position the feminism of'uncritical equality.' Critical of the masculine model endorsed by this position, she argues that it ... fails to notice that such a rationalist model of the human as exclusive of nature is one which writes in assumptions not only of gender supremacy, but also of class, race and species supremacy. The implicit masculinity and other biases of these models also mean that the hope of equality for women within them wi l l be largely illusory, except for a privileged few (Plumwood 1993, 28). In response, she calls for a critical feminism which challenges "the ideals of both masculine and of human character" and all forms of domination (29). For many ecofeminists, the question "Is woman closer to nature?" is conceptually flawed (Davion 1994; Gaard 1993b; Gaard & Gruen 1993; Griscom 1981; K i n g 1983, 1989; Lahar 1991; Merchant 1980; Plumwood 1992, 1993; Roach 1991; Sandilands 1993; Warren 1987, 1990). A s Joan Griscom (1981, 9) puts it, "Since we are all part of nature, and since all of us, biology and culture alike, is part of nature, the question ultimately makes no sense." Catherine Roach (1991, 53) points out that culture evolves "in" nature, not outside of it. In no way can anyone or anything be "closer to nature" than any other being or thing because, through the inextricable implication of all in an environmental web of interconnection, all is already and equally "natural," that is, part of nature, the environment, or the Earth ... A l l our actions and creations, even the most elaborate, 79 sophisticated products of our culture, are not totally apart from "nature" or the environment that gave rise to them. Karen Warren (1987, 15) argues that the question itself can only be meaningful i f one accepts the legitimacy of the culture-'nature' dualism; and to do so is to contradict the fundamental ecofeminist critique of western conceptual frameworks. A n y argument that locates women on either side of the nature/culture dualism "mistakenly perpetuates the sort of oppositional, dualistic thinking for which patriarchal conceptual frameworks are criticized" (15). Rosi Braidotti et al (1994, 74) wonder i f the whole debate "between essentialism and constructivism is itself a consequence of dualistic thinking." In challenging either-or thinking, they "propose to move beyond the essentialism-constructivism split. Women's reality is both embodied and engendered, and historically constituted, culturally specific and informed by class and race/ethnic relations" (74-5). For many ecofeminists, the task is to dismantle the dualisms of western thought and to reconstruct notions of what it means to be human, male and female, in the context of a nature to which we belong (Lahar 1991; Plumwood 1991, 1992, 1993; Roach 1991; Warren 1987, 1990). "Breaking the dualism involves affirming and reconceptualizing both nature and human identity, as well as reconceptualizing the relationship between them in non-hierarchical ways" (Plumwood 1992, 12). For some, the reconceptualizing of identities and relationships is best achieved through active engagement in struggles to end domination. A s Braidotti et al (1994, 75) put it, If women take themselves seriously as social agents and as constitutive factors in this process, their praxis to end this double subjugation can be rooted not so much in women's equation with nature, but in taking responsibility for their own lives and environment. 80 Cultivating a Non-Hierarchical Culture In challenging the hierarchical and patriarchal nature of western culture, ecofeminists (a) call for the cultivation of a non-hierarchical consciousness, (b) support the notion of the relational self, (c) advocate for an ecofeminist ethic of care, and (d) call for the recovery of subjugated knowledges. Cultivating a non-hierarchical consciousness. In challenging the dominator consciousness of western culture, ecofeminists call for the reconceptualization of what it means to be human, male and female and in all our differences, within the wider context of a nature to which we belong; and challenge us to reconceptualize what it would mean to think about, and relate to each other and the earth in non-dualistic and non-hierarchical ways (Diamond & Orenstein 1990; Gaard 1993c; Kheel 1990; K i n g 1990; Lahar 1991; Plant 1989; Plumwood 1991, 1992, 1993; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994b). Central to this reconceptualization is the dismantling of the hierarchical dualisms and masculinist identities embedded in western thought. Challenging dualisms, argues V a l Plumwood (1993, 60) "requires the reconstruction of relationship and identity in terms of a non-hierarchical concept of difference." She suggests five features of relationships and identities based on this concept: (1) where hierarchical dualisms deny the importance of, and dependence on the inferior other, a non-hierarchical concept of difference acknowledges dependencies and "the contribution of what has been backgrounded"; (2) where hierarchical dualisms hyperseparate the self from the inferior other, a non-hierarchical concept of difference affirms continuity 81 and recognizes commonalities and overlap; (3) where hierarchical dualisms define the inferior other in relation to the superior self, a non-hierarchical notion of difference examines "the identities of both underside and upperside" and seeks to "rediscover a language and story for the underside, reclaim positive independent sources of identity and affirm resistance"; (4) where hierarchical dualisms place the other in the service of the self, a non-hierarchical notion of difference recognizes "the other as a centre of needs, value and striving on its own account, a being whose ends and needs are independent of the self and to be respected"; and (5) where hierarchical dualisms disregard and deny differences within inferiorized groups, a non-hierarchical concept of difference recognizes "the complexity and diversity of the 'other nations' which have been homogenised and marginalized" (60). In challenging the mechanisms of dualism, this concept of non-hierarchical difference locates the self in the context of "a complex, interacting pattern of both continuity and difference" and non-hierarchical relations between self and other (67). A s Plumwood warns, however, the transition from dualism to non-hierarchical constructs is fraught with difficulties and challenges. Beginning as it does from within the context of a culture shaped by hierarchical dualisms, the challenge is to construct new identities and relationships that do not simply replace one dualism with another; and that sufficiently challenge the distorted and subordinated identities within existing dualisms. She identifies three traps that need to be negotiated in reclaiming and affirming subordinated identities: the Cavern of Reversal; the Desert of Difference; and the Swamp of Affirmation (Plumwood 1993, 59-68). In the Cavern of Reversal the 'other' reacts to the inferiorization of 82 the self by simply reversing value; uncritically affirming the subordinated identity and devaluing what once had been dominant. In doing so, the subordinated other replaces one dualism with another and fails to adequately challenge dualistic identities. A s an example, the uncritical reversal of gender identities and the valuing of female/feminine over male/masculine reverses the male-female dualism without challenging gender identities constructed within and distorted by patriarchal constructs. In the Desert of Difference, the 'other' reacts to the hierarchical ordering and exaggeration of difference by denying difference and seeking "merger, the elimination of the problematic boundary between the one and the other" (59). In doing so, this position denies real differences and risks the dissolution of the other into the identity of the dominant self. In failing to challenge the distortion of rather than the existence of difference, the other fails to reclaim a distinct identity free of the colonizing logic of dualism. Thus, to deny that differences between men and women exist, rather than to challenge the patriarchal distortion of these differences, is to risk dissolving women's identities into the dominant masculine culture and to leave women without positive identities that can serve as a basis for resistance and political action. The Swamp of Affirmation represents the challenge of reclaiming liberatory identities without uncritically affirming identities distorted by dualism or denying the differences that provide the basis for these distortions. In reflecting on the male-female dualism, Plumwood argues, "Affirmation is essential to counter the logic of the master subject, who inferiorises women ... but it must be a critical and qualified one" (63). The challenge is to critically reconstruct woman's identity in ways that: acknowledge difference without accepting the hierarchical ordering of this difference; acknowledge continuities without merger; transcend patriarchal distortions of 83 differences; and affirm those subordinated qualities that have real value. A s she puts it, "We can reject women's powerlessness without also rejecting the entire content of women's lives and roles and the areas of culture which have been assigned low status" (65). In recognizing the complex web of oppressions within which gender identities have been constructed, however, Plumwood emphasizes that this process also requires a critical examination of how women themselves have, to various degrees, participated in the inferiorization of other subordinated identities (eg. race, class, species). In the end, the reconstruction of non-. hierarchical identities requires the critical reconstruction of both the subordinated and dominant identities. For western women, this involves critically challenging all of the ways in which they have absorbed "the western construction of the human" (67). The relational self. The call for the critical reconstruction of nondualistic human and gender identities has left ecofeminists uneasy with many of the notions of the ecological self proposed within the ecocentric discourse. While ecocentrists call for the cultivation of an ecological self, ecofeminists problematise the identity of this self and critically examine the extent to which the ecocentric discourse adequately challenges the hierarchical dualisms embedded in culturally dominant notions of what it means to be human (Cheney 1987; Kheel 1990; Lahar 1991; Plumwood 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994; Warren 1987, 1990; Zimmerman 1990). In pointing to the male-dominated discourse of deep ecology, ecofeminists argue that critiques of anthropocentrism and notions of the ecological self are based primarily on men's experiences and masculinist notions of the self (Kheel 1990; Plumwood 1991, 1992, 1993; Salleh 1984, 1992; Zimmerman 1990). A s Marti Kheel (1990, 129) points out, since "men 84 and women, under patriarchal society, experience the world, and hence their conceptions of self, in widely divergent ways," gender-blind analyses risk the promotion of concepts that ignore women's and other marginalized peoples experiences and identities, and that perpetuate masculinist ways of being. While ecofeminists support the recovery of a wholeness that reconnects the individual to all the parts of the self as well as to the larger context within which the self is embedded, they express concern as to how this wholeness and the holistic self are conceived, expressed and recovered. In examining three accounts of the ecological self, V a l Plumwood (1991, 12-6; 1993, 173-82) finds them all "unsatisfactory, both from a feminist perspective and from that of obtaining a satisfactory environmental philosophy" (1993, 176). Deep ecology attempts to address the separation of humans and nature by urging identification of self with the larger Self such that: (1) the self merges with, and becomes indistinguishable from, the cosmic whole (the holistic self); (2) the self expands in empathy to identify with other beings in the universe (the expanded self); or (3) the particular self is transcended in favour of an impartial identification with the cosmos (the transcended self). Plumwood argues that the 'holistic self merely reverses the dualism between atomism and holism and fails to deal adequately with the concept of 'authentic human being' by denying both our continuity with, and distinctiveness and independence from, nonhuman nature. Stephanie Lahar (1991, 37) adds that, in the context of oppression, holism can ... endanger our lives by undermining the integrity of individuals and their special needs and interests. Women and other oppressed categories of people should be especially wary of paradigms that could be construed as advocating the sacrifice of 85 individual needs to a 'greater whole'—whether that be the family, society, or 'Gaia,' a planetary entity. The 'expanded self merely enlarges and extends the boundaries of the egoistic self, imposing both the self and self-interest onto a selected few with whom one identifies. "Others are recognised morally only to the extent that they are incorporated into the self, and their difference denied" (Plumwood 1993, 180). In striving for an impartial and universal identification with the cosmos, the 'transcended' or 'transpersonal self discards and devalues our identifications, attachments and concerns with particular places within this cosmos. In doing so, it promotes an abstract sense of self which perpetuates the dualistic opposition of reason/emotion, universal/particular, and which denies the very connections that give meaning and provide guidance to the particular relationships that people have with nonhuman nature. The promotion of an abstract universal and rational self, and the devaluation of the particular and emotional, serve to reinforce masculinist notions of what it means to be authentically human (181-2). Similarly, while supporting the ecocentric notion of the 'embodied self,' feminists argue that patriarchal culture has transformed bodily differences between men and women into distorted notions of masculinity and femininity such that men's and women's relationships to their bodies cannot be taken as unproblematic (Heller 1993a, 1993c; K i n g 1990; Spretnak 1991). In advocating for a recovery of women's erotic identities, for instance, Chaia Heller (1993a, 148) argues: The erotic is a vital quality, a power of which most women have been deprived. Women all over the planet have been barraged by patriarchal 86 ideologies which brainwash us to hate our bodies, to mistrust our deepest feelings and intuitions. In addition, the constant threat of male violence, which keeps so many of us afraid both at home and on the streets, drains the joy from our bodies, makes us weary and [defeated]. Few women in the world move and work with a feeling of embodied confidence and pleasure. For feminists and ecofeminists, this recovery of 'embodied confidence' is a challenge for all marginalized peoples, and women in particular, whose bodies have been devalued, controlled, and violated (hooks 1984, 1988; Lorde 1984; Mies 1986; Riley 1993; Smith 1993; Wil l iams 1993). For many ecofeminists, embodiment is closely associated with the recovery of the 'spiritual self—the embodied self connected in intricate ways to both human and nonhuman nature (Adams 1993; Feldman 1990; Heller 1993c; Plaskow & Christ 1989; Spretnak 1991, 1993; Starhawk 1982, 1987). This embodied, spiritual self directly challenges patriarchal notions of the disembodied, transcendent, and masculine spiritual self. A s Carol Adams (1993, 1) points out, "When patriarchal spirituality associates women, body, and nature, and then emphasizes transcending the body and transcending the rest of nature, it makes oppression sacred." In recovering this embodied spiritual self, however, she warns against the romanticization, misappropriation and misunderstanding of spiritual practices of earth-based cultures struggling for survival on the margins of western culture (3). To separate the spiritual from the political, and to appropriate spiritual practices while ignoring the struggles of marginalized peoples, is to ignore our own complicity, as western peoples, in the marginalization of embodied and earth-loving spiritual practices. For ecofeminists, the concept of self that best challenges the dualistic and masculinist structures of western thought is that of the 'relational self or the 'self-in-relationship' (Cheney 87 1987; Plumwood 1991, 1993; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994b; Warren & Cheney 1991). The relational self locates the individual in the context of "both social and ecological communities" and in noninstrumental relationship with "earth others" (Plumwood 1993, 154). Consistent with the ecocentric principles of internal relatedness and notions of the 'relatively autonomous self (Eckersley 1992, 53), the relational self is "formed by, bound to and in interaction with others through a rich set of relationships which are essential to and non incidental to his or her project" (Plumwood 1993, 156). A s Karen Warren (1990, 143) explains, Humans are who we are in large part by virtue of the historical and social contexts and the relationships we are in, including our relationships with nonhuman nature. Relationships are not something extrinsic to who we are ... they play an essential role in shaping what it means to be human. Neither merged with nor separate from this web of relationships, the relational self negotiates the tensions between dependence and separateness, continuity and difference (Plumwood 1993, 156-7). Within the context of these relationships, the relational self recognises both common membership in the earth community, and the limits imposed on the self by respect for the 'earth other' as its own "centre of agency or intentionality" (159). An ecofeminist ethic of care. The concept of the ecological self as 'relational self is "one which includes the goal of the flourishing of earth others and the earth community among its own primary ends, and hence respects or cares for these others for their own sake" (Plumwood 1993, 154). In contrast to the instrumental relationships of western culture, the self-in-relationship recognizes the intrinsic value of self and other, respects differences and 88 values connections, and provides the basis for "an ethic of connectedness and caring for others" (Plumwood 1991, 20). Such an ethic is inclusive, contextual, and makes a central place for values that express our capacity to care for human and nonhuman earth others (Cheney 1987; K ing 1991; Plumwood 1993; Warren 1990, 1994b; Warren & Cheney 1991). It is inclusive in that it recognises the differences that exist among and between earth others, and makes a central place for the emerging voices of those whose identities, knowledges, and values have been inferiorized and subordinated within the dominant culture (D'Souza 1989, 1994; Haraway 1991; Lahar 1991; Plumwood 1993; Shiva 1993; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994b; Warren & Cheney 1991). It is contextual in that it recognises the particular contexts, as well as the diversity of ways, in which we come to know, care for, and respect earth others (Cheney 1987; Plumwood 1993; Warren 1990). It makes a central place for values "such as care, respect, gratitude, sensitivity, reverence and friendship" (Plumwood 1993, 183). These values "presuppose that our relationships to others are central to our understanding of who we are" (Warren 1990, 143). As V a l Plumwood (1993, 182-8) points out, this ethic of care offers an alternative to the dominant universal, rational, and rights-based ethical framework. It resists the temptation to develop one all-encompassing ethic, speaking instead "not in one voice but in a number of different political voices" that give expression to sometimes conflicting concerns, particular and personal as well as more general and collective (188). It challenges the subordination of the personal and particular to an abstract universal ethic, and makes the development of some wider concern "a question not of transcending or detaching the self from particular, personal moral commitments, but in part at least of understanding or coming to see the relationship between these particular commitments and local situations and 89 those of distant others" (187). It challenges "the dominance of instrumental relationships in the public sphere" and the relegation of an ethic of care to the private sphere; and challenges the reason/emotion dualism which constructs emotion as "the underside of reason, so that it is identified as an unreliable, unreflective, irrational and sometimes uncontrollable force reason must dominate" (189). The construction of an ethic of care, however, is not without its problems. While agreeing with ecofeminists in their efforts to construct an ethics of care, Roger K i n g (1991, 76) reflects on relationships with nonhuman others and argues that "we need to become clearer about what it means to care about nature." In the context of our anthropocentric and increasingly urbanized societies, both women and men are more and more cut off from direct relationships with nature, and many "do not care very deeply about the fate of nonhuman beings and systems" (84). Similarly, feminists and ecofeminists caution against the uncritical adoption of an ethic of care shaped by patriarchal constructs. Within patriarchy, women and the feminine have long been associated with notions of care that are privatised, devalued, self-sacrificing and isolating; and that fail to acknowledge and nourish men's capacity to care (Lahar 1991; Plumwood 1993; Tronto 1989). Furthermore, V a l Plumwood (1993, 188) reminds us that an ethic of care can be either "socially progressive or socially regressive" depending on whether it serves to maintain or challenge existing relations of domination. We can care for those who dominate others, and in our caring uphold ways of being that are socially and/or ecologically destructive. Despite these problems, she argues that "the care model has a major contribution to make to understanding alternatives to the dominant 90 instrumental models." Without arguing that women are intrinsically more capable of caring for others, she insists that, to the extent that they bring noninstrumentalizing values and practices to the public sphere, they "indeed have something highly valuable to offer" (188). Ecofeminists call for an ethic of care as a guide to noninstrumental relationships with self and earth others, in both our personal lives and the wider context. Such an ethic challenges distorted notions of care that place the subordinated other in the service of the dominant self, and reclaims our capacity to care for self and earth others (Cheney 1987, 1994; Heller 1993b; K i n g 1991; Plumwood 1993; Tronto 1989). The recovery of subjugated knowledges. In challenging a dominator consciousness and relations of domination, ecofeminists call for the recovery of the multiplicity of marginalized voices, and the diversity of women's voices in particular; and argue that they offer critical and creative perspectives that can help us to better understand and respond to the crises before us (D'Souza 1989, 1994; Haraway 1991; Harding 1991; Lahar 1991; Plumwood 1993; Shiva 1988, 1993; Warren 1987, 1990, 1994b; Warren & Cheney 1991). The recovery of these "hidden knowledges," argues Corinne Kumar D'Souza (1994, 90), can help us to challenge the hegemony of the dominant discourse and "to find fresh spaces, to generate new imaginations, to invent new political patterns, to create, perhaps, new possibilities o f change for our times." V a l Plumwood (1993, 196) reminds us that these sources of understanding and inspiration exist both within "subordinated and ignored parts of western culture" and in "the sustaining stories of cultures we have cast as outside reason." Donna Haraway (1991, 191) argues that these subjugated perspectives "are preferred because they seem to promise 91 more adequate, sustained, objective, transforming accounts of the world." In favouring an "anti-patriarchalist inclusiveness," Karen Warren (1994b, 188) explains, those claims are morally, epistemologically, and politically favored (preferred, better, less biased) which are more inclusive of the felt experiences and perspectives of oppressed persons from a nonpatriarchalist perspective. Those claims which exclude or conflict with such perspectives are viewed as more biased, more partial, less preferred. Insisting on the full inclusion of "a multiplicity of voices, especially women's voices ... across cross-cultural contexts," she argues that "failure to include what women know ... is to perpetuate patriarchalist, non-inclusivist bias" (188). In supporting the recovery of these subjugated knowledges, Donna Haraway (1991, 188-89) reminds us that these are "situated and embodied knowledges" and are therefore, always partial. It is this partiality, she argues, that offers the possibilities for the "connections and unexpected openings" that can lead to new collective visions and understandings (196). As she explains, The knowing self is partial in all its guises, never finished, whole, simply there and original; it is always constructed and stitched together imperfectly, and therefore able to join with another, to see together without claiming to be another" (193). In contrast to the disembodied "view from nowhere" that characterizes western culture's search for universal constructs, Haraway argues for "the joining of partial views and halting voices into a collective subject position that promises a vision of the means of ongoing finite embodiment, of l iving within limits and contradictions, i.e., of views from somewhere" (196). In the context of complexity, real differences, and relations of domination, she argues for "politics and epistemologies of location, position, and situating" and for "power-sensitive, not pluralist, 'conversation'" (191-5). 92 The recovery of these subjugated knowledges and partial perspectives is not without its problems (Eckersley 1992; Davion 1994; Haraway 1991; Plumwood 1993). In warning against the "danger of romanticizing [sic] and/or appropriating the vision of the less powerful," Haraway (1991, 191) reminds us that "the positionings of the subjugated are not exempt from critical re-examination, decoding, deconstruction, and interpretation. The standpoints of the subjugated are not 'innocent' positions." In reflecting on the tendency of some ecofeminists to uncritically privilege women's perspectives, for example, Robyn Eckersley (1992, 67) reminds us that there is a difference between "privileging—rather than simply rendering visible and critically incorporating—the special insights of women." She admits that the fact that "women have been less implicated than men in major activities and centers of ecological destruction ... is itself an excellent reason to hear what women have to say on the subject of ecological reconstruction." But she warns against an over-identification with, and uncritical acceptance of women's perspectives. A s she explains, Such an over-identification can sometimes inhibit the general emancipatory process by offering an analysis that can (i) deny the extent to which many women may be complicit in the domination of nature; (ii) overlook the various ways in which men have been oppressed by limiting 'masculine stereotypes'; and (iii) be blind to other social dynamics, institutions, and prejudices that do not bear on the question of gender. Moreover [it] can sometimes lead to a lopsided and reductionist analysis of social and ecological problems (67). To be a truly emancipatory framework, ecofeminists "must be. able to critically incorporate the special experiences and perspectives of all oppressed social groups, not just women" (70). 93 3.3 The Call for an Action-Oriented Ecofeminism The Conceptual Preoccupation of Ecofeminism Without discounting the importance of challenging patriarchal conceptual frameworks and reconceptualizing human and gender identity, some feminists and ecofeminists express concern that ecofeminist theory has developed primarily within the conceptual realm and has paid less attention to socio-political structures and the lived realities of women (Agarwal 1992; Biehl 1991; D i Chiro 1992; Lahar 1991; Prentice 1988; Seager 1993). Susan Prentice (1988, 10) worries that this conceptual focus promotes idealist strategies for changing "male thinking" and diverts attention away from the social structures that keep systems of domination in place. Joni Seager (1993, 2-13) argues that, in seeking to understand the roots of the environmental crisis, the masculinist and male-dominated nature of western structures cannot be ignored. A s she emphasizes, "It is folly to ignore the fact that virtually all of the institutions, bureaucracies, and groups fanned out across the environmental spectrum are run by men in pursuit of male-defined objectives" (6). In particular, she points to four significant institutional players: the militaries, multinationals, governments, and the eco-establishment (as distinguished from grassroots environmental groups). The first three, she argues, "are primary agents of environmental degradation" while the fourth plays a major role in "setting the environmental agenda, and framing the ways in which we perceive environmental crisis" (4). It is significant, she argues, that the institutions "that control virtually all decisions and actions that shape our environment" are shaped by masculinist assumptions about appropriate 94 behaviour and by the interests of male-dominated decision-makers (5). A feminist analysis of the environmental crisis "starts with the understanding that environmental problems derive from the exercise of power and the struggle of vested interest groups played out on a physical tableau" (3). In the context of male-dominated structures and differences in power and interests, the task for feminists is to develop an analysis of environmental problems "that makes agency clear" (3) and that is "rooted in uncovering the workings of gender" (4). In uncovering the workings of gender, some feminists and ecofeminists point to patriarchal structures that need to be challenged in the process of transforming western culture. O f particular concern to Janet Biehl (1991, 134-42) is ecofeminism's failure to take seriously issues of citizenship, democratic decision-making processes, and women's active participation in public life. Given ecofeminism's focus on home and community "as the locus of ecological struggle" (134), she reminds us that community life can be regressive, parochial, and "notoriously oppressive to women" (135) and that a liberatory democratic process is crucial for a "community life that is liberatory for women" (136). Some ecofeminists share Biehl's concerns and caution against the romanticization of home and community. A s they argue, many of the identities and relationships within these sites have been, and continue to be oppressive to women, other marginalized peoples, and the earth (Biehl 1991; Fike & Kerr 1995; Forsey 1993; Plant 1990a, 1990b, 1993). While supporting the bioregional call for an expanded notion of community and a revaluation of home "as one that includes the local community and the other beings with whom we share that community," Michelle Summer Fike and Sarah Kerr (1995, 26) argue that without a feminist 95 analysis, "there is a danger of revaluing a home that is no different from the one that restricts so many women's lives today." While supporting the call for the exercise of non-hierarchical forms of power, they argue that "none of these new forms of power can be realized without addressing the very real power imbalances that women are faced with every day" (25). To the extent that ecofeminists pay attention to structures, they support the call for nonhierarchical and democratic structures and highlight the need to radically transform the hierarchical and patriarchal nature of western structures. Chaia Heller (1993a, 156-7), for instance, urges us to "create and revive structures which allow for the greatest levels of creativity and democracy in society. These structures must be non-hierarchical and must encourage the greatest level of participation and collectivity." She calls for "an 'erotic democracy' that decentralizes power and allows for direct, passionate participation in the decisions that determine our lives" (Heller 1993b, 240). It is through these participatory structures that we can engage our bodily, erotic selves and realize "our potential for passionate, creative expression, our desire to know and to be known within a compassionate, ecological society" (241). For women to engage fully in this process, however, they must be free from the threat of male violence and the patriarchal control of their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction; free from workplaces that threaten their health and devalue their bodily labour; free from systems of governance that marginalize their bodily presence and stifle the expression of their passionate, engaged selves; free from economies that distort their needs and desires and disconnect them from any sense of belonging to the ecological whole; and free from cultural institutions that deny their capacity for creativity and knowing (Heller 96 1993 a, 157-60). In other words, for women to engage fully and passionately in an 'erotic democracy,' it is essential that we challenge patriarchal structures that maintain and reproduce the subordination, marginalization, and domination of women. Patriarchal Structures O f particular concern to feminists are the complex and shifting ways in which biological differences between men and women are socially transformed into inequitable gender relations and reflected and reproduced in and through the policies, practices, roles, and condoned behaviours of western social, political, economic, and cultural institutions (Seager 1993; Segal 1987; Walby 1989; Warren 1994c; Weedon 1987). Arguing that patriarchy can take different forms in different times, places, and cultures, and that women's experiences of patriarchy are mediated by their diverse social locations (eg. race and class), Sylvia Walby (1989, 214) identifies six patriarchal structures that shape gender relations within the context industrial cultures: the patriarchal mode of production, patriarchal relations in paid work, patriarchal relations in the state, male violence, patriarchal relations in sexuality, and patriarchal relations in cultural institutions, such as religion, the media and education. Within each of these structures it is possible to identify sets of patriarchal practices which are less deeply sedimented. Together, this complex of patriarchal structures and practices acts to marginalize and subordinate women both within the home and in public life (227-8). 97 The first two structures identified by Walby represent two dimensions of patriarchal economic structures. Within the patriarchal mode of production, a gendered division of labour assigns to women a disproportionate share of the unpaid domestic work and enables men—particularly husbands—to expropriate women's labour for free and to their benefit. Patriarchal relations in paid work result in "the exclusion of women from paid work or the segregation of women within it" (Walby 1989, 223). The effect of these patriarchal economic relations, feminists argue, is that the bulk of the work that women do in the home and in the community is undervalued and rendered invisible, the bulk of the work that women do in the paid workplace is devalued and underpaid, and women themselves are rendered 'unproductive,' economically insignificant, and either economically dependent on men or poor (Brandt 1995; Leghorn & Parker 1981; Mies 1986; Shiva 1988; Waring 1988). A third structure, the patriarchal state, is a complex set of relations with sometimes contradictory strategies, that nevertheless plays a significant role in producing and reproducing patriarchal relations. A s Walby (1989, 224) argues, "Women are excluded from access to state resources and power" by virtue of their under-representation within state decision-making bodies, but most significantly by virtue of a gendered politics which leaves women with less political power to affect key decisions of the state. A s feminists argue, this gendered politics plays a significant role in defining what is 'political' and therefore worthy of public attention, and what is 'private' and therefore outside the domain of public concern (Bock & James 1992; James 1992; Pateman 1983, 1992; Phillips 1991). The effect of this gendered politics and male-dominated state sub-structures is to marginalize women from 98 decision-making processes, to frame issues in androcentric terms, and to promote policies, practices, legislation, and regulations that reflect and reinforce patriarchal notions of 'appropriate' gender relations. As Walby (1989, 224) argues, these patriarchal notions and practices have significant impact on gender relations by virtue of the ways they shape state rulings related to, for instance, divorce and marriage, fertility, wage discrimination, sexuality, male violence, and belief systems. Walby (1989, 224) argues that male violence cannot be explained away on the basis of individual psychological abnormalities. As a patriarchal structure, male violence consists of "a set of various practices including: rape, wife-beating, father/daughter incest, flashing, sexual harassment at work, sexual assault." Whether or not individual men choose to engage in any of these practices, their existence as "a regular social form and ... women's well-founded expectations of its routine nature" act to structure women's lives. A s Walby points out, "Most women significantly alter their conduct and patterns of movement as a consequence of fear of male violence" (225). Feminists have long argued that male violence plays a significant role in controlling women and keeping them in their place (Brownmiller 1975; Caputi 1992; Griffin 1982, 1986; Hanmer 1978; Leghorn & Parker 1981; Mies 1986; Roberts 1983; Schechter 1982). Closely related to male violence, which is acted out on women's bodies, are patriarchal relations in sexuality which seek to control women's (and men's) bodies and women's reproductive capacities by defining as 'normal' one form of sexuality— 99 heterosexuality--and by promoting 'appropriate' sexual practices which reflect and reproduce inequitable gender relations. The effect is to construct marriage as the preferred option for women and to discourage intimate friendships with other women. Like male violence, sexuality "is a set of social practices, and cannot be reduced to the psychological or biological levels" (Walby 1989, 226). Patriarchal relations in sexuality are reflected in dominant attitudes and practices around, and feminist struggles over, issues such as abortion, reproductive rights, child birth and childcare, women's health, pornography, homophobia, and female desire (Currie & Raoul 1992; Zita 1992); and are interlinked with "other social oppressions such as racism, classism, ageism, and physicalism" (Zita 1992, 490). A s Jane Flax (1990, 51-2) points out, "both men's and women's understanding of anatomy, biology, embodiedness, sexuality, and reproduction is partially rooted in, reflects, and must justify (or challenge) preexisting gender relations." These understandings and socially condoned practices have a profound effect on how we understand and experiences ourselves as embodied beings. Finally, Walby (1989, 227) argues that patriarchal culture, as a structured set of diverse practices, "is best analysed as a set of discourses which are institutionally-rooted." Although these discourses vary to the degree that they are shaped by "age, class and ethnicity in particular," they share a common purpose—"the differentiation of masculinity from femininity" (227). Cultural institutions such as religions, educational systems and the media play an important role in constructing and reproducing culturally dominant notions of what it means to be male and female and in enacting forms of patriarchal closure against women. A s 100 Walby emphasizes, however, these "[discourses on femininity and masculinity" are not contained within these cultural institutions, but are "institutionalized in all sites of social life" (227). In the workplace, for instance, patriarchal notions of what is 'appropriate' work for men and women is closely linked to, and reinforced by, patriarchal notions of masculinity and femininity. Joni Seager (1993) argues that institutionalized patriarchal notions of masculinity and femininity, together with practices of patriarchal closure, play a significant role in shaping institutions that are not only hierarchical, but male-dominated and masculinist. They are masculinist in that they promote "a type of culturally dominant masculinity that, while it does not correspond to the actual personality of the majority of men, sustains patriarchal authority and legitimizes a patriarchal social and political order" (1993, 8). Janis Birkeland (1993a, 25) argues that the assumptions of power built into this masculinist culture serve to legitimate coercive and hierarchical power relations. "In other words, i f Mankind is by nature autonomous, aggressive, and competitive (that is, 'masculine'), then psychological and physical coercion or hierarchical structures are necessary to manage conflict and maintain social order." A s Seager (1993, 7) points out, the effect of this masculinist culture within institutions is that "structures can be so rooted in masculinist presumptions that even were women in charge of these structures, they would retain the core characteristics that many feminists and progressive men find troubling." She notes, however, that for the most part women have not been in charge, and that these masculinist structures are also male-dominated ones. Despite the fact that most men don't feel very powerful in their own lives, 101 culturally dominant notions of masculinity, together with the predominance of men in positions of institutional power, serve to reproduce and reinforce gender hierarchies, promote 'masculinist' behaviour, and privilege the knowledge, experiences, and interests of men in general and elite men in particular (8). The Call for an Action-Oriented Ecofeminism There have been some attempts within ecofeminism to link theory and action (Berman 1993, 1995; Caldecott & Leland 1983; Hamilton 1990; Hessing 1993; Hutcheson 1995; K i n g 1990; Merchant 1981, 1984, 1992, 1996; Nelson 1990; Quinby 1990; Starhawk 1982, 1987, 1990). The early anthology Reclaim the Earth: Women speak out for Life on Earth (Caldecott & Leland 1983) is a "politically grounded and internationally balanced" collection that reflects an ecofeminist sensibility and gives voice to women's ecological concerns, visions, and strategies (Salleh 1991, 207). Other ecofeminist works and anthologies have been criticized for their preoccupation with philosophical rather than activist issues (Agarwal 1992; Lahar 1991; Salleh 1991). Without discounting the significance of philosophical and conceptual issues, Bina Agarwal (1992, 120-3) argues that, to effectively challenge culturally dominant constructs, we need to pay attention to the social contexts within which these constructs are produced and reproduced, and to the differing material realities that shape women's lives, their relationships to nonhuman nature, and their responses to environmental degradation. She proposes a 'feminist environmentalism' involving "struggles over both resources and meanings" (127). 102 On the feminist front there would be a need to challenge and transform both notions about gender and the actual division of work and resources between the genders. On the environmental front there would be a need to challenge and transform not only notions about the relationship between people and nature but also the actual methods of appropriation of nature's resources by a few. Stephanie Lahar (1991, 35) notes that, although ecofeminist theory in the past "developed in close dialogue with political praxis," there has been a progressive move away from activist issues in recent years. She points to the deconstructive and reconstructive potential within ecofeminism. Ecofeminism is highly critical of most social and political institutions and thereby serves a deconstructive or dissembling function that supports political resistance. ... Ecofeminism also aspires to a creative and reconstructive function in society. To realize this potential, ecofeminism must offer "not only an orientation and worldview but also a basis for responsible action. ... [It must] maintain an active political and participatory emphasis that is both deconstructive (reactive to current injustices) and reconstructive (proactive in creating new forms of thinking and doing)" (36). A s she argues, in the context of "a crisis point in social and natural history," we cannot afford not to have an action-oriented philosophy. She calls for the development of an action-oriented ecofeminism that must "emerge out of a felt sense of need and personal connection with the issues at hand, not just out of an abstract process of reasoning" (36). A s an emancipatory theory, it arises out of the particularities of our lives and is "inseparable from the persons who think, struggle with, carry, and live it in specific times and places" (39). It is through the development of this embodied and action-oriented theory that ecofeminism that can fulfil its potential. A s Lahar concludes, Ecofeminism does make big promises. Their fulfillment depends on theorists and activists who can embody the broad and integrated sensibilities of self and world that 103 ecofeminism helps develop and advocate and who can find the power and the energy to act on those sensibilities to make real social and political changes (43). In responding to the call for an action-based ecofeminism, I would argue that we need to draw on both ecofeminist and feminist literatures, and on the felt concerns and lived experiences of environmentally concerned and active women. While ecofeminism offers a framework for challenging patriarchal constructs that rationalize the domination of women and nonhuman nature, the feminist literature offers insight into the patriarchal structures that enable this domination to continue. Together, ecofeminist and feminist literatures have the potential to contribute to the development of a transformative feminist framework that challenges both ecological destruction and the oppression of women. But while these literatures offer powerful feminist critiques of western values and structures and can suggest the way forward, the insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women have much to teach us about the challenges that face us along the way. 3.4 Learning From Women's Environmental Activism In searching through the environmental literature for research into the insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women, I find a shortage of research on the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism. The existing literature includes quantitative surveys on gender differences in environmental concern, anecdotal evidence of the extent of women's environmental activism, personal accounts and 104 testimonies, and a relatively few in-depth studies clustered predominantly around women's toxic waste activism. These divergent sources of information suggest the following: (a) women are often more environmentally concerned than men; (b) women's environmental activism is extensive; (c) women are making significant contributions to the environmental movement, particularly at the grassroots; (d) patriarchy plays a role in marginalizing women's environmental concerns and insights and in frustrating their activism; and (e) women's environmental activism has transformative potential. With little in-depth research to draw on, however, both the critical insights and experiences of environmentally active women remain under-explored. In particular, there is a scarcity of in-depth research on women's environmental activism arising out of concern for nonhuman nature. The Extent of Women's Environmental Concerns. There is modest, but statistically significant, evidence that women tend to be more environmentally concerned than men, and that environmentally active women tend to be the most concerned of all. This evidence has emerged primarily within public opinion research (Mellor 1992, 41; Mi l le r 1991, 69 ;Nelk in 1981, 14; Rodda 1991, 103; Wright 1992) and within the survey literature in the field of environmental sociology (Baldassare & Katz 1992; Blocker & Eckberg 1989; Cornwell 1989; Fortmann & Kusel 1990; Hamilton 1985a, 1985b; Jones & Dunlap 1992; McStay & Dunlap 1983; Milbrath 1989, 53; Mohai 1992; Steger & Witt 1989; Stout-Wiegand & Trent 1983). Some surveys of'publics' and 'environmentalists' have found women environmental activists to be the most concerned of all and the strongest 105 supporters of the New Ecological Paradigm and environmental protection measures (Cornwell 1989; Fortmann & Kusel 1990; McStay & Dunlap 1983; Steger & Witt 1989). Despite evidence of women's environmental concerns, however, few researchers have attempted to explore this phenomenon in depth; fewer still have attempted to explore it from a feminist perspective (Cornwell 1989; Klundt 1991; Krauss 1993). Furthermore, "surprisingly little" research has been done on the extent to which women's environmental concern has been translated into action (Mohai 1992, 2). While these studies provide some evidence of the extent of women's environmental concerns, they do not provide the basis for concluding that aU women are more environmentally concerned than men, or that women are always more environmentally concerned than men. In fact, some studies have found no significant differences between men and women (Johnson & Johnson 1994; Van Liere & Dunlap 1980); others have found men to be more supportive of the environmental worldview (Arcury & Christianson, 1990) and more supportive of conservation policies (Longstreth et al 1989). In cautioning against the generalization of these studies, researchers point to the various limitations of the surveys: (a) many of the gender differences found in these studies have been small, and even the statistically significant differences have been modest (Cornwell 1989; McStay & Dunlap 1983); (b) even where significant gender differences were found, when considered along with other variables (e.g. cognitive, ideological etc), gender was not always the most important (Klundt 1991; Longstreth et al 1989; Van Liere & Dunlap 1980); and most importantly (c) these studies range widely in terms of the substantive issues addressed (eg. toxic waste, 106 resource depletion, acid rain), the particular contexts within which the studies are carried out, and the particular conceptual frameworks by which the researchers define and measure environmental concern (Baldassare & Katz 1992; Jones & Dunlap 1992; Klundt 1991; V a n Liere & Dunlap 1981). A s Karen Klundt (1991, 149) concludes, "With such a variety of indicators of environmental concern and virtually no replication of studies, it is difficult to establish the meaning of environmental concern, to compare findings from different studies, and to establish generalizations." The Extent of Women's Environmental Activism. There is evidence that growing numbers of women throughout the world are responding to environmental problems and translating their concerns into action (Caldecott & Leland 1983; Dankelman & Davidson 1988; Forsey 1993; Hamilton 1990; Harcourt 1994b; Hessing 1993; M a y 1990a; Merchant 1981, 1984, 1992, 1996; Nelk in 1981; Paolisso & Yudelman 1991; Peterson & Merchant 1986; Ranney 1992; Rodda 1991; Salleh 1987; Schmid 1990; Seager 1993; Shiva 1988, 1994; Sontheimer 1991; Viezzer 1992; W E D O 1992). Taken as a whole, women's environmental activism addresses a wide-range of local and global issues that threaten the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and ecosystems (e.g. ozone depletion, climate change, forest practices, mining, agriculture, fisheries, militarism, mega-dams, hazardous wastes, nuclear energy, ecological conservation and restoration, and animal rights). Despite the extent and diversity of women's environmental activism at both local and global levels, there has been little in-depth research 107 into this phenomenon, and limited research in the context of western industrial culture (Krauss 1993; Lerner 1993; Lerner & Jackson 1993). Much of the literature on 'gender and sustainability' or 'women and the environment' has focused on women's environmental activism in the South where women, particularly rural and indigenous women, are playing a key role in environmental management, protection, restoration and conservation (Dankelman & Davidson 1988; Harcourt 1994b; Jacobson 1992a; Paolisso & Yudelman 1991; Rodda 1991; Shiva 1988, 1994; Sontheimer 1991). While there are increasing references to women's environmental activism in the North, few in-depth studies exist. Toxic waste activism. In reviewing the literature on women's environmental activism in the North, I find that most of the anecdotes, personal testimonies, and in-depth studies focus on women's activism around issues of hazardous or toxic wastes (Chavez 1992; Cook 1992; D i Chiro 1992; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Gibbs 1982; Gibbs & Stults 1988; Goodwin 1991; Hamilton 1990, 1991; Highlander 1992; Krauss 1993, 1995; Levine 1982; Mcintosh 1993; Merchant 1981; Neal & Phillips 1990; Nelk in 1981; Nelson 1990; Newman 1994; Peterson & Merchant 1986; Rosenberg 1990; Shute 1987). A s Carolyn Merchant (1996, 12) points out, "The majority of activists in the grassroots movement against toxics are women." In her review of women's activism in this movement, she provides examples of women's individual and collective activism around issues of nuclear technology, radioactive wastes on native lands, hazardous chemical wastes, pesticides and herbicides, and appropriate technology (139-66). A s she concludes, "The participation of 108 thousands of women around the country and around the world in such activities illustrates the depth of their concern and the power of their activism" (151). Activism as a 'motherhood' issue. Research into women's activism around hazardous wastes has led many to frame women's environmental activism as an extension of traditional gender roles. Giovanna D i Chiro (1992, 113) points out that many women organizing against toxic wastes have been moved to action by "deep concerns about the health and future survival of their children and communities." Their expressed concern for the health and well-being of children, families, and communities has prompted many to explain women's environmental activism in terms of their traditional roles as caretakers, nurturers, and mothers (Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Hamilton 1990; Krauss 1993; Neal & Phillips 1990; Peterson & Merchant 1986; Rosenberg 1990; Seager 1993; West & Blumberg 1990). A s D i Chiro (1992, 113) explains, "The identity and experience of being a 'mother,' and the outrage at watching local corporations and government officials exhibiting total disregard for the lives of their children, have significantly motivated many women to become politically active." She emphasizes, however, that women's identities "as simply 'mothers' is by no means always the central focus of their activism" (115). In responding to the local manifestations of environmental destruction, research on women's environmental activism around toxic wastes shows that, while they may frame their activism in terms of motherhood, they bring to their activism perspectives that reflect the diverse and complex circumstances and contexts of their lives (Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Hamilton 1990; Krauss 1993, 1995; Nelson 1990). 109 The Contributions of Women's Environmental Activism. Grassroots activism and the environmental justice movement. Women are contributing significantly to the growth and development of a grassroots environmental movement (Di Chiro 1992; Durning 1989; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Garland 1988, Goodwin 1991; Jordan & Snow 1992; Krauss 1993; Merchant 1981, 1996; Rousch 1992); and women, particularly low-income women and women of colour, make up "the vast majority of activists in the environmental justice movement" (Di Chiro 1992, 93). Existing research suggests that these women activists are making significant contributions to how we understand and respond to environmental problems. In examining the activism of working class, African American, and Native American women around toxic wastes, for instance, Celene Krauss (1993, 259) argues that their protests connect environmental concerns to issues of class, gender and race. In linking these issues, they contribute significantly to the emergence and growth of a grassroots environmental justice movement in the United States (Di Chiro 1992; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Krauss 1993, 1995). D i Chiro (1992, 96) argues that this "merging of social justice and environmental interests" is helping to build a movement that "assumes that people are an integral part of what should be understood as the 'environment'." She contrasts this perspective with the "white, middle-class, and uncritically 'preservationist' political culture" of the mainstream environmental movement that tends to exclude issues of environmental justice from their agenda (Di Chiro 1992, 94-5). What others point out is that the mainstream environmental movement is also dominated by men (Larsen 1991; Seager 1993; Snow 1992). 110 The gendered nature of environmentalism. While women's leadership is highly visible within grassroots environmental organizations, national and international organizations are dominated by men. The female-dominated grassroots environmental movement in general, and the environmental justice movement in particular, contrast sharply with the male-dominated mainstream environmental movement (Di Chiro 1992; Jordan & Snow 1992; Larsen 1991; Seager 1993; Snow 1992). In a study of over 500 conservation leaders in the United States, for instance, the Conservation Fund concluded, "The leadership of the environmental movement stands as an obdurate white-male island in the middle of the work force increasingly populated by women and people of color" (Snow 1992, xxxi i i ) . In this study, Snow (1992, 100) argues that the domination of the mainstream environmental movement by white middle-class men, the hierarchical nature of their organizations and decision-making processes, the predominantly technocratic and expert-based approach to dealing with environmental issues, and their general discomfort with issues of social justice often places the mainstream environmental movement at odds with the female-dominated grassroots environment movement "over the most fundamental question in a democracy: Who shall choose, and how shall the choices be made?" In contrast, research on women's grassroots environmental activism confirms a participatory and democratic ethos with a greater emphasis on democratic structures, decision-making, and group processes; a greater willingness to challenge the power and vested interests of corporate and state elites and to expose the injustices of environmental decision-making; an essentially political as opposed to technocratic approach to environmental issues; and the merging of environmental and social justice issues (Di Chiro 1992; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Goodwin 1991; Jordan & 111 Snow 1992). In organizing around concerns for the well-being of their children, families, and communities, these women have contributed significantly to the democratization of their own organizations and public decision-making processes, to the growth of environmental organizing, and to the organization of multiconstitutional and multiracial coalitions (Di Chiro 1992; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Hamilton 1990; Krauss 1993). They have also contributed to the creation of a new consciousness around environmental issues. In linking issues of social justice with environmental concern, women's grassroots activism around toxic wastes locates humans within the context of a larger "environment" to which they belong (Di Chiro 1992). In basing their activism on both experiential and scientific knowledge, they have challenged the domination of scientific experts and professionals (Di Chiro 1992; Seager 1993). And finally, women's insistence on "fighting for what they felt was 'right' rather than what men argued might be reasonable" has placed values and moral concerns at the centre of environmental activism (Hamilton 1990, 221). In reviewing the critical perspectives that these women bring to their activism, D i Chiro (1992, 125) concludes, The multiple struggles for material and cultural survival that these activists and their communities have been engaged in for years ... illustrate a commitment to addressing the fundamental problems underlying the "environmental crisis." ... The issue is not that we need to regulate and design more advanced technologies or to determine the minimum habitat requirements of a particular organism, but that "everyone deserves to live in a healthy and safe environment" regardless of race, class, gender, culture, or species. ... These women's voices ... speak loudly and clearly and it's time to listen. 112 Women's Activism in the Context of Patriarchy. Despite the significant contributions that women are making to how we understand and respond to the environmental crisis, the testimonies of women reveal the patriarchal resistance they face in the course of their activism. A s feminists explain, when women become active in the 'public' sphere, they challenge patriarchal constructs and structures that act to relegate women and their concerns to the 'private' spaces of home and family (Di Chiro 1992; Seager 1993, West & Blumberg 1990). A s Joni Seager (1993, 271) points out, "when women walk out of their homes to protest a planned clear-cutting scheme, toxic-waste dump, or highway through their community, their gender and sex identity goes with them—in a way that is not true for men." Whether or not women pursue their environmental activism "self-consciously as women ... they are perceived by men not just as environmental activists, but as women activists." When women step into the 'public' realm to express and act on their concerns, their activism "can and often does involve a triple struggle: against the broad tyranny of state or corporate male elites, against sexism within the movement itself, and against the patriarchal machismo of men in the family" (West & Blumberg 1990, 30). Public patriarchy. When confronted with the concerns that women bring to their environmental activism, the typical response of state and corporate elites has been to belittle the women themselves as 'hysterical housewives,' 'irrational' or 'uniformed'; and to thereby trivialize both the women and their concerns as unimportant or irrelevant (Di Chiro 1992; Hamilton 1990; Hynes 1988; Light 1992; Luxton, Rosenberg & Arat-Koc 1990; Macintosh 113 1993; Rosenberg 1990). Ridicule is "a common play men use to discredit women's knowledge and their concerns" (Light 1992, 14). Anita Light (1992, 14) argues that women activists are further marginalized by androcentric assumptions that define proper behaviour and influence the organization of public processes such as environmental hearings. The 'rules of the game' favour a masculinized image of participants: detached, unemotional, rational, well-organized, well-connected, and appropriately dressed in suit and tie with briefcase in hand. Public processes are often organized around the lives of men who have "wives to wash their clothes, cook their meals, and get their children to and from school" (15). The timing of meetings, the lack of childcare, the intolerance of children's presence at meetings, and the refusal to acknowledge and allow for women's caretaking responsibilities all make it difficult for women with families to participate. When women do participate, they are often treated with disrespect and relegated to supportive and marginal roles. A s Light elaborates, Women activists endure the looks, the sniggers and the patronizing 'dears' and 'luvs' and 'what does your husband think about you being out so often?' They tolerate being interrupted, given less time to speak, having the topic changed, asked to take notes, being passed over when important delegations are to be formed or public speeches made. Women activists have to brave the daily sexual intimidation that is every woman's experience i f she walks alone or travels alone. But fortunately they are not always deterred (15). Women who persist in their activism often find themselves the target of intimidation and violence that is directed at them both as environmental activists and as women. Women activists are particularly vulnerable to sexual intimidation and male violence (Seager 1993; West & B l u m b e r g 1990). 114 Patriarchy in the movement. Seager (1993, 175) points out that many women find environmental organizations to be more 'women-friendly' than most workplaces. She suggests, however, that this is less so within the predominantly white, middle-class, and male-dominated eco-establishment with its "trend toward professionalization" (176). A s she describes it, this eco-establishment is directed by male-dominated boards and management and serviced and maintained by female-dominated administration and support staff; driven by organizational models "mired in conventional male power structures" and a "men's club ethos"; and directed by male-defined priorities and agendas (175-9). Patriarchal organizational structures and leadership styles and increasing professionalization have turned the ecoestablishment into a replica of the corporate, military, and government establishments "that are often their environmental adversaries" (185). Together, 'the boys' on both sides of the environmental agenda play a significant role in shaping how we understand and respond to environmental problems (5). Within both the eco-establishment and grassroots environmental organizations, women activists find themselves: relegated to the lower-paid administrative, caretaking, and housekeeping roles; the target of sexist jokes, insults and harassment; marginalized by hierarchical, competitive, and male-dominated organizations; and silenced by aggressive men, macho leadership styles, and patriarchal processes and politics (Bari 1991, 1994; Chornook 1993; Forsey 1993; Larsen 1991; Schmid 1990; Seager 1993; Tindall & Begoray 1993). When women in these organizations attempt to challenge "patriarchal ways of conducting business," the typical response is to argue that "a more urgent agenda takes precedence. Women are often told that 'their' issues wi l l be dealt with later" (Seager 1993, 171). 115 Patriarchy in the home. Women who persist in their activism eventually feel the tensions between their private lives and the demands of public activism. The stories of women organizing around toxic wastes are testimony to the struggles women encounter as they try to juggle the traditional roles and expectations placed upon them by family members with their need to give public voice to their concerns about the health and well-being of their families and communities. Women recount stories of how their activism has turned their homes into hectic organizing centres, made it difficult for them to keep up with their housecleaning chores and their caretaking and childminding roles, and kept them away from home and unavailable to their husbands and children who accuse them of neglecting their family responsibilities (Gibbs 1982; Hamilton 1990; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984). For many women, the intensity of their activism threatens their relationships, sometimes to the point of divorce or separation (Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Gibbs 1982). Faced with the choice between activism and meeting their traditional role expectations, however, many women find themselves unwilling to fit back into their old roles. A s Love Canal activist, Lois Gibbs, puts it, " M y husband never changed, but I did. I felt like I couldn't go back and be a full-time homemaker." The Transformative Potential of Women's Activism Women's stories of continued activism in the face of patriarchy reveal both their capacity to resist patriarchal barriers and the transformative potential of their activism. Within the few in-depth studies on women's environmental activism are accounts of both 116 tremendous personal strain and patriarchal resistance and personal transformation and empowerment (Di Chiro 1992; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Gibbs 1982; Krauss 1993; Rosenberg 1990). In examining women's environmental activism around toxic wastes, Harriet Rosenberg (1990, 125) speaks of the "transformation from isolated housewife to activist." In their study of women's environmental activism around toxic wastes, Freudenberg & Zaltzberg (1984) found that women with little prior experience with political organizing spoke of how their activism helped them to overcome shyness, grow in self-confidence, and gain skills in lobbying, research, public communications, community organizing, media outreach, planning and strategies. Although their activism began as an extension of traditional female roles, "in the process of carrying out their traditional responsibilities, these activists were in fact transformed" (265). In many instances, women's activism has also transformed relations in the home. A s women have devoted more of their time and energy to their activism, some husbands have become more engaged in household work (eg. cooking, childcare), children and spouses have become more engaged in support work for the women, and several women have reported that their activism has earned them a new respect from their children (Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Gibbs 1982; Hamilton 1990). Cynthia Hamilton (1990, 221) documents the transformations that took place in the homes of some women activists, [Meetings] in individual homes ultimately involved children and spouses alike— everyone worked and everyone listened. The transformation of relations continued as women spoke up at hearings and demonstrations and husbands transported children, made signs, and looked on with pride and support at public forums. 117 There is also evidence to show that the strong presence of women in environmental organizations can transform the organizational culture (Bari 1991, 1994; Chornook 1993; Freudenberg & Zaltzberg 1984; Hamilton 1990). Freudenberg & Zaltzberg (1984) found that many of the community groups struggling against toxic wastes organized themselves around principles that were very similar to those developed within the early feminist movement: nonhierarchical structures, rotating leadership, consensus decision-making, participatory democracy, integration of personal concerns with political action, and nonviolent direct action. These stories of personal empowerment, changing gender roles in the home, and increasingly nonhierarchical and democratic organizational structures suggest that women's environmental activism has the potential for both personal and structural transformation: and that women's environmental activism has the potential to challenge both ecological destruction and patriarchal relations. With few studies to draw on, however, the transformative potential of women's environmental activism remains unanswered. The Scarcity of In-Depth Research Despite evidence of the extent and significance of women's environmental concern and activism in the North, a review of literature reveals a lack of in-depth research into the subjective dimensions of women's environmental activism. A s a result, the critical insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women remain under-explored. 118 The quantitative nature of the survey literature on gender differences in environmental concern, the scarcity of in-depth studies, and a concentration of research on women's activism around toxic wastes suggest the need for in-depth research in a variety of contexts. From a feminist perspective, I would argue that the survey literature on gender differences in environmental concern is limited by the quantitative nature of the research. Without discounting the ability of quantitative survey techniques to "put a problem on the map" (Reinharz 1992, 70) or to highlight an issue for further research, feminists argue that quantitative research techniques such as survey questionnaires force respondents to "fit" into conceptualizations and categories that are predetermined by the researchers and leave little room for the conceptualizations and categories of respondents to emerge (Jayaratne & Stewart 1991; Klundt 1991; Reinharz 1992). When the categories and subsequent analyses are informed by androcentric assumptions, these predefined categories "distort women's experience and result in a silencing of women's own voices" (Jayaratne & Stewart (1991, 85). B y reducing complex issues to a limited number of questions predetermined by the researcher, surveys tend to obscure and oversimplify issues and leave little room for the complexities and subtleties of the issues to emerge (Reinharz 1992, 89-90). The lack of in-depth exploration into the subjective side of women's environmental concerns leaves us with little understanding as to how women themselves frame and respond to their environmental concerns. 119 Despite the extent and significance of women's environmental activism, particularly at the grassroots, in-depth research into this phenomenon has been limited and much of our understanding of women's environmental activism has been constructed around the experiences of women active in grassroots struggles around toxic wastes. A s a result, both the critical perspectives that women bring to their activism and feminist concerns about patriarchal barriers to sustainability remain unexplored (Krauss 1993; Lerner 1993; Lerner & Jackson 1993). In reviewing case studies, surveys and other literature on contemporary environmental stewardship groups and coalitions, for instance, Lerner and Jackson (1993, 25) note the invisibility of gender issues in the literature and suggest that "further research would probably reveal that these exist, openly or as suppressed issues, in a number of contemporary groups." Feminists are increasingly calling for the recovery of women's stories of environmental activism and for an acknowledgement of the contributions that their activism is making to the well-being of communities and the earth (Forsey 1993; Hosek 1991; Krauss 1993; Mcintosh 1993). In supporting the call for the recovery of women's stories, Sue Mcintosh (1993, 90) insists that "most importantly, we need to hear them and learn from them." Without discounting the significance of women's environmental concerns and activism around toxic wastes, the framing of their concerns around issues of human health raises the question of whether these women challenge anthropocentric values which place the well-being of humans above that of nonhuman nature. The lack of research on women's environmental activism from an ecofeminist perspective, and the scarcity of research on 120 women's environmental activism arising out of concern for nonhuman nature, leaves unanswered the question of the ecofeminist potential of women's environmental activism. While there is evidence that women have played a significant role in the American conservation movement (Merchant 1984; Ranney 1992), for instance, there is a scarcity of in-depth studies that explore the subjective dimensions of their activism. Evidence of women's presence as conservation activists in both the United States and Canada continues to surface primarily in the form of individual testimonies and the occasional case study (Bari 1991, 1994; Berman 1995; Chomook 1993; Highlander 1992; Langer & Bate 1993; M a y 1990a, 1990b; Sherwood 1991; Tindall & Begoray 1993; Voelker 1988a, 1988b). The need for research on women's environmental activism in this area is highlighted by the findings of Fortmann & Kusel (1990). In surveying community residents near two American national forests for differences in forest management attitudes, dissatisfaction, and action, they found little difference between the attitudes of long and short-term residents. They did, however, find that women tended to be more proenvironmental than men; and that the 'voice' o f those expressing concerns tended to be female. As they conclude: "These data are interesting in that while the voice which the Forest Service has traditionally heard has not only been procommodity, but also male, this would suggest that a new voice that is both environmentalist and female is emerging" (221-2). 121 2.5 Defining This Research The Research Problem The call for ethics-based planning for sustainability. In Chapter 1,1 point out that planning theory and practice has paid scarce attention to the values and assumptions shaping planning responses to environmental problems. In the context of a deepening environmental crisis, there are growing calls for a planning framework informed by environmental ethics. In Chapter 2,1 draw on the literatures of deep ecology, social ecology, bioregionalism, and ecofeminism to explore four essential features of the ecocentric discourse and briefly outline an ethics-based planning framework consistent with an ecocentric perspective. Raising feminist concerns. In Chapter 3,1 ask whether this ethics-based planning framework w i l l challenge the patriarchal nature of western culture, and mainstream planning in particular. In reflecting on the urgent call for action emerging from the sustainability discourse, and on the ecocentric call for cultural transformation, I raise feminist concerns about the marginalization of women's insights and experiences from the processes by which we come to understand and respond to the environmental crisis; and ecofeminist concerns about the reproduction of patriarchy within the emerging theories and practices of the ecocentric discourse. A feminist framework that challenges both ecological destruction and the oppression of women is called for. 122 The call for an action-oriented ecofeminist framework. Ecofeminism promises to provide the best framework for challenging ecological destruction and the oppression of women. However, ecofeminist theory has developed primarily in the ideological realm and has paid little attention to structures. In supporting the call for an action-oriented ecofeminism, I argue that we need to draw from both ecofeminist and feminist literatures, and on the felt concerns and lived experiences of environmentally concerned and active women. While ecofeminist and feminist literatures provide a theoretical challenge to culturally dominant values and structures that rationalize and reproduce the domination of women and nonhuman nature, the insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women have much to teach us about the challenges that face us along the way. The call for in-depth research. Despite evidence of the extent and significance of women's environmental concern and activism, there is a scarcity of research into the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism. Both the critical insights that women bring to their activism and the patriarchal barriers that they face in the course of their activism remain under-explored. Most of the research findings to date have been drawn from women's activism around toxic wastes, and there is little research on women's activism arising out of concern for nonhuman nature. In-depth research into women's environmental activism arising out of concern for nonhuman nature contributes to the development of an action-based ecofeminism and to our understanding of an ethics-based planning that challenges the domination of both women and nonhuman nature. 123 Purpose of This Research This research explores the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism arising out of concern for nonhuman nature in order to (a) discover the critical insights that they bring to their activism and the patriarchal barriers they face in the course of their activism, (b) contribute to the development of an action-based ecofeminism, and (c) contribute to the development of an ethics-based planning for sustainability. In proposing an ecofeminist planning framework, this research contributes to the development of an ethics-based planning that challenges the oppression of human and nonhuman nature, male and female, and in all our differences. It also enhances our understanding of women's environmental activism in the context of western industrial culture. 124 C H A P T E R 4 R E C O V E R I N G W O M E N ' S VOICES: M E T H O D S 4.1 Choosing a Method: Carrying Out the Research In order to learn from the insights and experiences of women whose environmental activism arises out of concerns for nonhuman nature, I adopt a feminist methodology, in-depth qualitative methods, and an exploratory case study research strategy. Feminist Methodology Feminist methodology has developed in response to what Dorothy Smith (1987, 22) calls "the brutal history of women's silencing." A s she explains, with men occupying most positions of power, "the concerns, interests, and experiences forming 'our' culture are those of men in positions of dominance whose perspectives are built on the silence of women (and of others)" (19-20). A feminist methodology is committed to challenging this androcentric bias (Cook & Fonow 1986; Fonow & Cook 1991; Gluck & Patai 1991; Harding 1987b; Smith 1987; Reinharz 1992). Sandra Harding (1987a) articulates three distinctive features of 125 feminist research. Feminist methodology (a) generates understanding out of the lived experiences and perspectives of women but rejects the notion of a universal 'woman's experience' by acknowledging the diversity and complexity of women's lives, (b) is intended to benefit women and to challenge conditions that negatively affect their lives, and (c) locates the researcher in the research and seeks more interactive forms of research that include women as subjects and 'knowers,' not merely as objects of inquiry. In this research, I seek to make visible the insights and lived experiences of environmentally concerned and active women in order to discover the critical perspectives they bring to their activism and the patriarchal barriers they face in the course of their activism. In rejecting the notion of a universal 'woman's experience,' I attempt to uncover both shared perspectives and some of the differences and complexities in these women's lives. Furthermore, in keeping with Donna Haraway's (1991) concept of partial and situated knowledges, I avoid the temptation to claim that the results of this research represent the perspectives and experiences of al l women. Instead, I would argue that the research findings reflect the perspectives and experiences of particular women located in a particular place and historical moment; and that the views they offer do not necessarily reflect the concerns, insights, and experiences of all women living in the region. In preliminary research, I interviewed a cross-section of women living in and around Clayoquot Sound: First Nations women, women working in the forest industry, women whose partners worked in the industry, and women with no direct links to the industry (Boucher, Forthcoming). While it is important to understand the various, and sometimes conflicting, perspectives that these 126 differently-located women have to offer, this research focuses on the testimonies of a particular subset of these women-al l of European origin and with no direct links to the forest industry. The selection criteria are outlined in the 'In-Depth Interviews' section (below). On the one hand, this research helps us to explore feminist concerns in the context of, and to develop an action-oriented ecofeminism and an ethics-based planning framework out of, the meanings and lived experiences of particular environmentally concerned and active women. On the other hand, the research findings offer perspectives that, in their partiality and imperfection, can be joined with the partial perspectives of differently-situated women in coming to a fuller understanding of the issues at hand. Uncovering the differences and commonalities of the 'stories' that other women have to tell is clearly a task for future research. In locating myself in this research, I would like to make visible some of my own concerns, values, and perspectives. Firstly, as a white woman of French ancestry, I am a . member of the very western culture that I seek to challenge. As such, I recognize that I have a responsibility to proceed in a careful and self-reflexive manner. While critical of my own western culture, I resist the notion that all that is western must be rejected. Instead, I seek to come to a more complex understanding of both the destructive patterns and the transformative possibilities that lie within it. While this research draws on the experiences and perspectives of other white western women, I believe that the perspectives of aboriginal and non-western peoples also have much to contribute to this understanding. Secondly, as a woman with working class roots, whose father worked in the forest industry in Northern 127 Ontario, I reject the characterization of industry workers as 'the problem' and challenge stereotypes that pit workers and their families against environmentalists. In previous research (Boucher 1993a, 1993b) I call for a more complex understanding of forest issues; one that acknowledges the real concerns of industry workers, environmentalists, First Nations communities, and feminists; one that challenges the marginalization and exploitation of workers, the forests, First Nations peoples, and women. A s part of a larger project, the present research contributes to this more complex understanding by exploring the concerns of particular environmentally concerned women. The joining of their stories with those of marginalized others w i l l continue to deepen our understanding of the issues and help us to respond more appropriately to them. Qualitative Methods In-depth qualitative research methods allow us to explore the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism in order to discover both the meanings that women give to their concerns and activism, and their experiences as environmentally concerned and active women. Sometimes referred to as 'naturalistic inquiry,' qualitative research (a) explores the research question in the context of natural settings and everyday life, (b) values and seeks to understand the perspectives of the research participants, (c) involves interaction between the researcher and research participants, and (d) depends on peoples own words and meanings as the primary source of data (Denzin & Lincoln 1994; Lincoln & Guba 1985; Marshall & Rossman 1989; Patton 1982). The contextual and interactive nature of qualitative research 128 calls for a flexible research design which allows new questions, emerging themes, unexpected data, and new insights to reveal themselves as the research process unfolds (Lincoln & Guba 1985; Marshall & Rossman 1989). Research Strategy: An Exploratory Case Study A case study research strategy allows for the exploration of little-understood phenomena in the context of the particular (Marshall & Rossman 1989; Stake 1994; Reinharz 1992; Y i n 1989). Shulamit Reinharz (1992, 174) argues that "case studies are essential for putting women on the map of social life." A s she explains, researchers employ case studies for a variety of reasons, to illustrate an idea, to explain the process of development over time, to show the limits of generalizations, to explore uncharted issues by starting with a limited case, and to pose provocative questions (167). For feminists, the case study is a useful research strategy for challenging male-dominated and androcentric theories, for making visible and theorizing out of the lived experiences of women, and for suggesting feminist action (167-9). In this instance, I use a case study to explore the relatively 'uncharted' phenomenon of women's environmental activism, and to develop an action-oriented ecofeminism and an ethics-based planning framework out of the lived experiences of environmentally concerned and active women. B y focusing on women's environmental activism in a particular context, the case study enables me to explore the particularities and complexities of the issues at hand (Reinharz 1992, 194). A s Robert Y i n (1989, 14) puts it, the case study is an appropriate research study when there is "the desire to 129 understand complex social phenomena" in a manner that retains "the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events." In this case, I explore women's environmental activism in the context of growing concerns about the coastal temperate rainforests of Clayoquot Sound. I chose to locate my research in the context of Clayoquot Sound for several reasons: (a) Clayoquot Sound has a long history of land use conflicts involving First Nations claims to traditional forested lands, environmentalist challenges to unsustainable forest practices, and industry efforts to ensure timber supplies. A s such, it provides a rich context within which to explore the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism; (b) the Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS) , a local environmental group, has played a significant role in these struggles and is located in Tofino, a predominantly non-aboriginal community in Clayoquot Sound; (c) with an economy dependent on fisheries and tourism, Tofino and the First Nations communities of the Sound depend on the long-term ecological sustainability of the region for their livelihoods; (d) over the years, Tofino has been the site of community-based and government-led processes designed to grapple with land conflicts and to develop a long-term sustainability strategy for the region; and (e) over the years many women from Tofino have played significant roles as directors and members of the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, as leaders, organizers, spokespersons, and participants in protests against unsustainable forest practices, and as participants in processes designed to search for sustainable solutions to the issues at hand. This research seeks to make visible the insights and experiences of some of these women. Without discounting the significant contributions of First Nations 130 communities in the region, and aboriginal women in particular, this research explores the subjective dimension of women's environmental activism from within the context of my own western culture. In the next chapter, I set Clayoquot Sound in the context of global and provincial forest-related concerns, and introduce the context within which these women's concerns and activism have emerged. A s a case study, this research takes place in the context of a particular place (the region of Clayoquot Sound and the town of Tofino) and a particular historical moment (one year following the 1993 summer of mass protests and arrests); the research findings reflect these particularities. Furthermore, the research findings are shaped both by the particular experiences and perspectives of the women interviewed, and by the particular perspectives, values and sensibilities that I, as the researcher, bring to the research process. The generalizability of the specific results, therefore, may be limited. A s with any case study, the task of the researcher "is not to represent the world, but to represent the case" (Stake 1994, 244). In seeking to adequately represent the case, this research allows for the construction of a 'story' which can be reflected on and explored for relevance in other contexts. Given the focus on the environmental activism of particular women in the context of western industrial culture, this 'story' is both situated and partial. But it is a story that can be joined by the 'stories' o f others. The use of techniques such as thick description of the research context, a theoretical framework, and triangulation increase the possibility of doing so. These techniques are described in greater detail in Section 3.2 below. 131 In-Depth Interviews Interviews are interactions between the interviewer and interviewee for the purpose of eliciting data relevant to the research at hand (Marshall & Rossman 1989, 82). They can vary from highly structured questionnaires to loosely structured 'conversations' in which the interviewee shapes the direction that the interview takes. Qualitative research generally depends on in-depth interviews which resemble these loosely structured 'conversations.' In contrast to structured interviews which ask the same predetermined questions of all interviewees, unstructured (or semi-structured) interviews are guided by a set of topics (or a set of questions about a topic) which the interviewer wishes to explore (Fontana & Frey 1994, 371; Marshall & Rossman 1989, 82; Reinharz 1992, 281). These interview guidelines "help uncover the participant's meaning perspective, but otherwise respects how the participant frames and structures the responses" (Marshall & Rossman 1989, 82). Rather than impose the researcher's pre-conceived ideas onto the interviewee, the in-depth interview allows themes and issues of importance to the participants to emerge. Feminist researchers argue that in-depth interviews allow for the recovery of women's own words, ideas, memories, and feelings, and that "this way of learning from women is an antidote to centuries of ignoring women's ideas altogether or of having men speak for women" (Reinharz 1992, 19). In this research, I use semi-structured interviews, guided by a set of questions, to explore the insights and experiences of environmentally concerned and active women in Clayoquot Sound. 132 A s an interactive form of data collection, interviews have both strengths and weaknesses (Marshall & Rossman 1989, 102-3). Besides providing the space for participants' own meanings and experiences to emerge, they facilitate immediate clarification and follow-up, the exploration of complexities and contradictions, and nonverbal communication; they enable large amounts of data to be collected quickly; and they allow data collection from a variety of sources and perspectives. A t the same time, the sheer quantity of data, while valuable, can be difficult to organize and analyse; and the subjective nature of the data makes them vulnerable to misinterpretation. Furthermore, because in-depth interviews involve personal interactions, they depend on good communication between the interviewer and interviewee and are vulnerable to all the dynamics of interpersonal communication (e.g. degree of cooperation, levels of personal comfort and trust, degree of openness and honesty, listening and communication skills, interpretive frames). Because interviewing intrudes into the lives of those being interviewed, and because a feminist methodology is critical of the objectification and exploitation of women within traditional research, many feminist researchers have concerned themselves with the nature of the interview relationship and with the methodological and ethical dilemmas they confront in trying to do research that is not exploitative or silencing of women's voices (Fontana & Frey 1994; Oakley 1981; Reinharz 1992; Ribbens 1989; Smith 1987). A n n Oakley (1981), for instance, rejects the notion of the detached and 'objective' interview process and argues for a feminist model of interviewing based on openness, engagement, non-hierarchical relations, and reciprocity. A s she argues, "personal involvement is more than dangerous bias—it is the 133 condition under which people come to know each other and to admit others into their lives" (58). In responding to Oakley's call for reciprocity, however, Jane Ribbens (1989) warns against the uncritical pursuit of interview relationships based on reciprocity, friendship, and collaboration while ignoring issues of power. She argues that there are often real differences in power between the researcher and the participant; and that different women have different expectations about the interview process, do not always welcome the researcher's self-disclosures, have different notions of 'friendship,' and are not necessarily interested in a relationship beyond the interview. Finally, she points to the paradox of in-depth interviews. While interviewees are given the power to control the direction that the interview takes, it is the researcher who ultimately takes this information away "to be objectified as an interview transcript" (1989, 587). She insists that researchers need to recognize and deal responsibly with "the inescapable power we may hold to define another's reality." In this research, I attempt to deal with this power to define by providing several opportunities for women to respond to the 'stories' that I construct out of their interviews (see 'member checks' in Section 3.2 below). In calling for ethical, responsible, and respectful research relationships, Andrea Fontana and James Frey (1994, 373) argue that interviews provide the opportunity for learning about both self and other. As they explain, "[A]s we treat the other as a human being, we can no longer remain objective, faceless interviewers, but beco